For many years, educators have been encouraging children to explore STEM fields, i.e. science, technology, engineering and math. Despite making up roughly half of the U.S. workforce, women are still vastly underrepresented in STEM occupations — just 27% according to the latest U.S. Census figures.
Local non-profit association Girls 4 Science wants to give girls in Chicago a roadmap to success in STEM.
“Girls 4 Science was born out of need,” said Jackie Lomax, who founded the program when her daughter showed interest in STEM subjects but couldn’t find any enrichment programs nearby. “I live in South Chicago and for many, many years felt like I was in a STEM wilderness. There was great interest but a lack of opportunity.
Girls 4 Science offers a free six-week program called Saturday STEM Academy for girls aged 10 to 18. The program, which begins in April, will study automotive science.
“We are so proud this spring to offer car science, in conjunction with a local training center, Fast Lane Training Center on the west side of Chicago,” Lomax said. We will be introduced to: How does the car work? What is the function of having oil in your engine? What do those check engine lights really mean? And how to maintain your car from one season to another?
Lomax said the scarcity of women working in the automotive industry makes this spring’s program particularly exciting.
“These topics are so relevant because women make up only 8% of occupations in the automotive industry,” Lomax said. “For girls between the ages of 10 and 18 to enter a City College of Chicago or college campus and be associated with female students or women of color in all areas of the profession, from chemistry to medical science in going through robotics – it really helps break down the stigma. So it’s a beautiful energy, the spirit of the woman, isn’t it? We move mountains!