1. What is the name and purpose of your Gold Award project?
My research showed that in elementary and middle school, 74% of girls express an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) for a future career. But by the time they choose a college major, only about .3% of today’s STEM majors are women. I wanted to address some of the root causes including a lack of information to young girls about today’s STEM careers and lack of school clubs dedicated to women in STEM.
2. What sustainable impact does your Gold Award project have on the community?
BE WISE (Bishop Eustace Women Interested in Science and Engineering) is now an officially sanctioned club at my high school. Girls from all four grades are members and the club has a Science faculty member as a continuing advisor. BE WISE has also been accepted as a “SWE Next” official club of the Society of Women Engineers - NEXT Generation national organization. Our “junior” club at an elementary school in Camden, NJ was officially recognized as a Girls Who Code national club.
3. What insights/takeaway did you gain from your project?
When I first submitted the approval form for the club at my school, many teachers said the club was unnecessary and told me that I need to make it more general and involve boys as well. Many of them didn’t understand the reasons behind why I felt it was so important to have an all-girls encouraging environment. I realized that girls were not the only ones who needed to be informed and educated on the lack of girls entering STEM fields of study.
I also initially thought that my meetings might just be me, and a few of my like-minded friends. However, I was overwhelmed with the amount of girls who showed up at the first meeting. I realized that how I felt about things was similar to how other girls were feeling and that I could trust my intuition that there was something I could do to make things work better in my community.
4. Anything else you'd like to share?
Since the completion of my Gold Award, I have graduated high school and am now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering, pursuing my own STEM career. I have joined a number of clubs including “Boot-up Baltimore” which helps repair computers and teach coding to kids through an after-school program. I also am in a club that helps lead Girl Scout troops and I will be leading my own Brownie Troop this fall at Barclay Elementary School in Baltimore!