San Diego, CA, United States, Dec. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In its ongoing commitment to foster development of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) identities in girls and nonbinary youth, the Fleet Science Center proudly showcases three key programs that San Diegans can engage with now.
According to the University of California, San Diego’s Women in STEM Workforce Index 2020, although more women than ever are represented in STEM, their share of jobs remains low, with only 25% of STEM jobs held by women. Women also earn $20,000 less per year than men in STEM.
According to the National Science Foundation, STEM fields are still the fastest growing and highest paying careers in the United States, yet women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce of 58.9 million workers but represent only 30 percent of the professionals in science and engineering jobs. Black and Hispanic women each make up only two percent and Indigenous women only one percent.
Still, opportunities exist, particularly in San Diego. The Women in STEM Workforce Index reports that San Diego County added 4,523 women to local STEM workforce between 2016 and 2018, a rate of increase faster than the national average. In addition, San Diego has narrowed the gender pay gap from 335 in 2015 to 18% in 2018, 5% below the national average, the index reports.
The key is to ensure that our youth can access these opportunities. The Fleet’s programming offers pathways for girls and nonbinary youth to explore STEM fields, examine career options, and importantly, build lifelong relationships with peers and mentors.
The Million Girls Moonshot Grant Expanded Learning Professional Development is funded by the Million Girls Moonshot Catalyst Grant to change the trajectory of girls and nonbinary youth in STEM. The initiative will engage more girls and underserved youth in deeper STEM learning.
With this funding, the Fleet will offer professional development workshops for expanded learning leaders with the San Diego County Office of Education. Workshops will be held at both the Fleet and at the San Diego County Office of Education.
Expanded learning initiatives allow for positive developmental relationships; supportive, safe and inclusive environments; rich learning experiences that leverage the learning experiences of youth; social and emotional development; and integrated, cross-system support for learning opportunities, according to Policy Analysis for California Education.
The Fleet also offers initiatives for youths.
Better Education for Women in STEM (BE WiSE) is an established Fleet program that brings together female and female-identifying students in grades 7–12 with inspiring STEM professionals from top companies and institutions in San Diego County.
BE WiSE is not just an activity; it’s a path, guided by STEM professionals who know how to navigate the often-complex world of STEM careers.
BE WiSE facilitates events that spark interest and build knowledge in STEM for these students. But just as important are the strong connections that everyone involved with BE WiSE creates and sustains. The program has maintained contact with more than 500 BE WiSE alumnae since the program began in 2008.
The vast network of BE WiSE alumnae, mentors and role models also help the younger BE WiSE cohorts develop can-do attitudes. “BE WiSE granted me the permission to remain confident in myself through all adversities, especially in the science field. The tenacious, yet compassionate, females leading the workshops provided incredible examples and endless knowledge of their fields,” says BE WiSE alumna Kamden Maas. She now holds a bachelor of science degree in biotechnology and a master’s degree in business administration, which she believes will help her achieve her goal of eventually owning her own biotech firm.
Applications for the next BE WiSE cohort open on December 11. The Fleet encourages any seventh or eighth grader even slightly curious about STEM to apply. Applications close on February 2, 2024.
Finally, for younger STEM fans, the Fleet offers its wildly popular SciTech program.
SciTech is a no-cost after-school program, held at schools, that lets girls and nonbinary youth in grades 4–6 experience problem-solving, community and representation.
“SciTech is all about bringing our community together through science and technology,” says Sandy Valdivia, youth engagement manager at the Fleet and point person for all things SciTech. “Girls can get hands-on experience and explore exciting career options that align with their interests.”
SciTech participants engage in project-based learning, do hands-on investigations, learn with Fleet science educators, and importantly, compete in the SciTech challenge, the capstone activity, at the Fleet.
SciTech has proved so popular that both fall and spring sessions are now offered. The spring 2024 session runs from February to May. The topic is space science, and students will explore the geology and chemistry of the solar system and design a Mars lander.
Applications are now open, and schools must submit before January 19, 2024.
About Million Girls Moonshot
Launched in 2020, the Million Girls Moonshot is a transformative nationwide initiative that is inspiring and preparing the next generation of innovators by engaging millions more girls in STEM learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programs over five years. The Million Girls Moonshot is the premier initiative of the STEM Next Opportunity Fund, an organization committed to expanding exceptional STEM learning opportunities outside of the classroom for all children everywhere.
About the Fleet Science Center
Since 1973, the Fleet Science Center has been a central link between science, schools and scientific organizations, collaborating with the communities that call San Diego County home. Its mission is simple yet bold: to realize a San Diego where everyone is connected to the power of science. The organization delivers on this mission through engaging experiences and culturally driven education programs in neighborhoods throughout the county and the historic Balboa Park flagship location. The Fleet creates places of inspiration by collaborating with communities to support and grow STEM talent in San Diego. From interactive exhibits and school field trips to free science programs, the Fleet is forward-thinking and consistently evolving to create positive change in the world. To learn more, visit fleetscience.org.
About Balboa Park
Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urban-cultural park in the United States. First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, it is also one of the oldest city parks in the nation and is the most visited single destination in San Diego. Its 1,200 acres include 17 museums, many gardens and attractions, the San Diego Zoo, miles of hiking trails, and multiple athletic complexes to explore and discover. For more information, visit balboapark.org.
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