Thursday, October 31, 2013

Girls Can Be Scientists Too

Girls from the YWCA in Olympia, participating in a discussion panel
for women in STEM careers.

Photo: YWCA
 When you think of careers in science, technology, engineering or math (fields most commonly referred to as STEM) what is the first visual that comes to mind? I'm willing to bet the first thing you pictured was an older man, with white fluffy hair, wearing protective goggles, plugging away at a chemistry set, a computer mother board, a black board covered in chalky white numbers. You know, that Einstein type! This makes sense. I learned this past week that women make up only 24% of STEM careers thanks to a PSA by Girls without Limits, part of the YWCA in Olympia, Washington. But this wasn't all I learned from this great group of girls.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife began a partnership with the YWCA of Olympia a few years ago by offering transportation funding to get girls out into nature, and the community. Now, we sponsor two girls each year to attend summer camps. In addition, our female employees frequent YWCA events to assist girls in developing the skills, empowerment and energy to pursue careers in STEM and conservation. These opportunities help mold the girls into successful women, and provide them leadership opportunities that ordinarily might have been perceived as things only men could do.

The YWCA of Olympia offers a number of different opportunities for girls and women, and is constantly looking for more. Aside from connecting girls with professional women, during school breaks, such as spring break, winter and summer, they provide camps for girls offering endless opportunities to learn new skills, work with mentors, and make life-long friendships with other girls. Throughout the school year, leaders from the YWCA host after-school groups where girls can come to talk about challenges and successes in their lives. As for connecting with nature, YWCA girls make frequent trips, some lead by U.S. Fish & Wildlife employees, to wildlife refuges and other local natural areas to learn about wildlife, conservation and careers!

It is quite obvious that the YWCA and their partners are making great headway in fostering growth and confidence for young women. If this sounds like something you or a professional women or girl you know would be interested in, you too can get involved. To find out more information on the YWCA of Olympia, please visit their website. To see some of the great work the leaders and girls are doing also check out their Facebook page and YouTube channel!

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