Over the next decade, it is projected that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields will create 2.6 million new jobs, according to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Center on Education and the Workforce.
Despite this, the U.S. Department of Commerce notes that women comprise only 24 percent of the current STEM workforce.
While the industry has made some strides in piquing high school girls’ interest in STEM, data from the U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics show that one-third of women who enter a STEM bachelor’s degree program switch their major to a non-STEM field by the time they graduate.
To help combat this problem, DeVry University’s HerWorld® program educates high school girls about in-demand STEM careers and introduces them to successful female role models who show them that STEM careers are challenging, rewarding and realizable.
On Thursday, March 13, more than 300 girls from Glen Ellyn-area high schools participated in a HerWorld event at the Abbington Banquet and Conference Center. Students had the opportunity to interact with peers, participate in confidence-building activities and hands-on workshops, and be inspired by stories of real female STEM role models from their communities.
The students were also treated to presentations from Anne Kuntz, high school career counselor, Dorletta Payton, college and career readiness consultant and Wendy Pastrick, who works with a Business Intelligence consultant company and showed students firsthand what it takes to be a successful woman in a STEM-related field.
Participating high schools included the School of Expressive Arts & Learning, Metea Valley High School, St. Francis High School, Willowbrook High School, Plano High School, Addison Trail High School, Romeoville High School, Glenbard East High School, South Elgin High School, Crete-Monee High School, Yorkville High School and Bolingbrook High School.
The Glen Ellyn event was one of 14 events taking place throughout National HerWorld Month (March). Mayim Bialik, who holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in neuroscience and currently stars in CBS's “The Big Bang Theory,” has signed on with DeVry as this year’s national spokesperson for HerWorld.
“Science, technology, engineering and math have lacked visible female role models in the past, and high school girls often perceive the curriculum for these subjects as less approachable,” said Bialik. “HerWorld challenges this perception by giving teenage girls a platform to experience the excitement of STEM firsthand. It engages them in the unique stories of successful women who are making a difference by introducing new innovations and leading initiatives that change lives and inspire enthusiasm about the world of STEM.”
Bialik hosted the national HerWorld event at Gotham Hall in New York City on March 14.