Game Changer Helps Prepare Girls for STEM Careers

According to a recent New York Times article:
  • Women make up nearly half the workforce, but have just 26% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, which tend to come with above-average pay and offer workers a wide choice of professions.
  • Schools that serve minority and lower-income neighborhoods tend to employ teachers with fewer years of experience and less specialized training in math and science than schools in white and upper-income neighborhoods.
  • When making choices about college majors and careers, many young women rule out engineering and computer science partly because they are uninterested, feel ill-prepared, or because society identifies these domains as male.
  • Girls have shown much more engagement in subjects when they learn the connection between what they are studying and real world problems.

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Through The Source, our five-week summer STEM learning program, Ci3 and the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab strove to encourage young women in STEM subjects and career paths. Participants were predominantly African American, came mostly from Chicago's South and West Sides, and 80% attended a Chicago Public School.

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During The Source, young women were exposed to real-world applications of STEM. They attended workshops with career professionals in fields such as epidemiology, robotics, and circuit building. Participants honed skills in cryptography, logic and deductive reasoning, and modern technology. Each STEM topic was linked to social and health issues, such as reproductive health, youth violence, and bullying.

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Said one female participant:

“I never knew that there were other jobs out there. Like chemist, engineer…I was like, ‘Those are men’s jobs. I’m not trying to do that.’ But over here it’s like, ‘Anybody can do that.’ I remember when we had a professional visiting, and he was teaching us about how he made robots, and it was mostly girls in the room, and how it was the guys who weren’t caring and the girls who are interested. He was like, ‘Girls, if you’re interested, you should come to the engineer fair, because girls are really wanted.’ I never knew that.”

Ci3 and Game Changer Chicago are developing a new version of The Source for summer 2014. Follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter.

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