There’s a new push to get more women involved in math and science, and Waco is in the middle of the effort.
Right now, the National Science Foundation says women make up half of the U.S. college-educated workforce but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. That percentage is even lower (11%) for minority women.
The Hidden Figures STEM Project in Waco is trying to change that statistic.
Friday they held a symposium with 50 Waco ISD middle school girls to celebrate women in STEM fields.
Dr. Peacher Henry created the project with one goal, to form a mentoriship program for young women so they understand they can enter professions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and be successful in them.
“Young girls start out doing exceedingly well in math, science and all the other STEM areas, but around about middle school studies show us that young women begin to decline in these areas,” said Dr. Henry, Hidden Figures Project Coordinator.
The project — hoping to keep young women from getting left behind in STEM fields, something that often develops as students advance in High School.\
“I believe the importance is the diversity in the field honestly, cause right now in my company there’s only one female engineer and it’s a pretty big company for the U.S. as well and I think that just being diversified and having a support system internally because men think differently than women sure,” said Andrea Lewis, Advance Procurement Specialist at Sulzer and panel speaker.
On Friday, those young women got to hear from professionals in fields like engineering.
“So hopefully I can make it sound like something that they will want to do when they grow up and it’s not something that most people would think of when they think of computer programming, so it’s good to know that you can find programming jobs in any field and so you can find what fields you’re interested in and go do programming for that,” said Amy Schmidt, Software Engineer at Trunk Club.
They also go a tate of the many different fields STEM encompasses.
“We’re building rockets. We’re building it with styrophone cups, construction paper and tape,” said Mia Guerrero, 6th grade student at Lake Air Montessori School.
All 50 Waco ISD students will continue to meet and grow with the Hidden Figures Program this year, and more young women will be able to join next year.
“There are so many opportunities that are available for young women in these areas, they will be able to find fulfilling careers and they will be helping their community if they take up these professions,” said Dr. Henry.