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Army Research Lab Sponsors STEM Workshop for Girls

A group of female high school students will have the chance to meet numerous women in STEM fields during an upcoming daylong workshop taking place Dec. 1. The Young Women in Science and Engineering College and Career Workshop is the brainchild of a senior research scientist from the United States Army who wanted to make sure her daughter and other students could interact with professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. The girls are students in the Science and Math Academy, a magnet program within Maryland-based Aberdeen High School.

Melanie Will-Cole, the workshop's sponsor, has lined up speakers from a veterinary clinic, a biomedical firm, Johns Hopkins University, and Drexel University, AT&T, R&D firm Battelle Memorial Institute, and other organizations.

Cole said the inspiration behind the workshop is her daughter Alex, a senior at the magnet school. "Over the last several years I watched Alex and her girlfriends grow into budding young scientists who learned to question, analyze, hypothesize, and conceptually understand the fields of science, math, and engineering. Although these girls are exposed to science and engineering research via their [science research and technology classes] and capstone senior thesis, I felt something was missing--their interaction with real women professionals in STEM."

She wanted the girls to be able to see "past the stereotype which somehow makes women in STEM appear surreal and untouchable." Her hope, she said, was to help the students "understand that female professional scientists, engineers and mathematicians are 'real people' and that although they have a demanding STEM career, they also have families, hobbies, play sports, participate in the arts, music, dance, and are active volunteers within their own community."

The workshop is designed to allow participants to have candid discussions on trends, obstacles, and opportunities of women in STEM fields. Speakers will offer short profiles of their careers and lives and attend mixers to allow adults and teens to talk with each other more informally.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.