It’s no jape, there are fewer female scientists than male ones. In fact, the National Science Foundation says biases against female students in the science classrooms persist, as do myths like “girls are less interested in science than boys are.” The Women in Technology Project (WIT), founded by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) in 2000, has honed in on this issue. They’re now training Maui County educators in a three-day professional development course entitled “Science Building Blocks,” in a partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory and University of Hawaii Maui College. The course offers teachers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training.
“We know that girls start to make gendered career assumptions as early as age seven, so by supporting our teachers with the tools to teach science and math concepts in exciting and interesting ways, we know we are debunking the stereotypes that these subjects are boring and only for geeks,” says Leslie Wilkins, Program Director of Women in Technology. “WIT includes gender equity principles in all its trainings and will provide female science role models in follow-up support for the teachers.”
Stacie Williams is the Program Director of Community Outreach for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). She’s determined to even up the numbers by motivating young girls, as well as boys, toward science even before they’re out of grade school.