By Diane Dunne, Mack Littleton Head of School
Last June, I had the marvelous experience of watching my son receive his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from one of the world’s premier universities. In addition to the tremendous pride I felt that day, I was inspired by the international diversity represented in the faces and languages I saw and heard around me. The commencement program read like a United Nations of bright young minds. But where were the women? I could tell from the crowd that male science graduates greatly outnumbered females.
Since that warm morning in June, I discovered that only 34% of the undergraduate and graduate students at Cal Tech are women. And while women are making tremendous strides in STEM careers, the National Girls Collaborative Project reports the following for the year 2016:
- 35.2% of chemists are women
- 11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women
- 33.8 % of environmental engineers are women
- 22.7% of chemical engineers are women
- 10.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women
- 7.9% of mechanical engineers are women
Why should we focus specifically on empowering and inspiring girls in science? The above numbers say it all; our girls and our world demand different statistics.
As a service to our community, both within and beyond Mackintosh, we are sponsoring our first girls in science event on Saturday, February 25. Bright Girls; Brilliant Journeys will connect girls, ages 9-13, with successful women scientists for a conversation about what it takes to be a scientist and for hands-on activities to make that conversation come alive. Our impressive lineup of panelists includes:
- Dr. Sarah Gibson, NCAR Astrophysicist
- Dr. Beverley McKeon, Professor of Aeronautics at Cal Tech
- April Archer, CEO/Founder of Sarabella Fishing
- Ronnie Ridpath, Software Configuration and QA at 10xpeople
- Beth Steklac, BSEE, MBA, former Mack science teacher
- Allison Howard, Mack alum and CU Engineering student
- Kathleen Keough, University of California, San Francisco Ph.D. candidate in pharmacogenomics
- Dr. Rebecca Beavers, Natural Resource Management for National Park Service, including Climate Change Response Program
After the panel discussion, girls will be able to select from several workshops, including an exploration of fluid dynamics through honey coiling, DNA extraction, an “Hour of Code” computer programming activity and a fly-fishing station featuring knot-tying, entomology and rod-building. Families can RSVP here by Feb. 23 to attend: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=thcor5kab&oeidk=a07edq61lzp55d20276
Every day at Mack, we provide the kind of engaging and innovative instruction that invites all students to explore the exciting world of science. On the 25th of February, we will work, just a little harder, to open those doors of the future to girls.