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At SNC Day, the college’s annual open house in September, hands-on science activities are a popular attraction.

Girls’ Sleepover Aims to Spark Interest in STEM

Wisconsin needs more women and minorities studying science, technology, engineering and math, aka the STEM subjects. Today, fewer than a quarter of advanced degrees and certificates in STEM studies are awarded to members of these two groups. In addition, STEM jobs in Wisconsin are projected to increase. To help combat this issue, St. Norbert College is partnering with local businesses to host STEM Girls Rock on Sept. 29-30.

This new initiative invites two dozen middle-school-age girls to campus for a sleepover and hands-on science camp. Organizers hope the two-day program will build the participants’ confidence in STEM subjects by providing them with academic opportunities and by introducing them to female scientists. 

Bridgit Martin, director of multicultural student services at St. Norbert College, took the lead in organizing the event after learning about a similar camp held by Beloit College.  

“It’s fantastic,” says Carrie Kissman, assistant professor of biology. “Being a female scientist, knowing there’s all sorts of challenges for young women to get involved in the sciences, it’s a really good idea.” 

The camp will kick off with a keynote address from a female engineer at Foth, and will include a variety of lab experiments. All the labs will be led by women scientists from St. Norbert College, Foth and Lindquist Machine Corp. The two companies are sponsors of this free program.

Martin said she intentionally limited the camp to female instructors and presenters to give the girls role models. “This way, the young ladies might think, ‘Why can’t I get involved in science?’ ” says Martin. “We’re just hoping we can encourage ladies to go into the sciences, into STEM.” 

In 2015, women earned less than 22 percent of computing or engineering degrees or certificates, while minorities made up less than 6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Yet a recent report by Economic Modeling Specialists International shows the number of STEM jobs in Wisconsin is expected to grow 8 percent over the next 10 years, compared with a projected 4 percent growth in all other jobs. 

Sept. 28, 2017