With the increased need and interest of girls in STEM, the Educational Opportunity Association (EOA) hosted the 2nd Annual Girls in STEM Conference at Wichita State University co-sponsored by Spirit Aerosystems.
Surrounded by hundreds of future female STEMers, Upward Bound scholars Tess Ngochi, Janelle Johnson, and Raini Fleming received two full days of all things STEM. Female scholars from the Midwest region received STEM exposure via hands-on activities in laboratory settings, critical-thinking discussions and exercises, as well as, concurrent sessions that allowed students to be exposed to advanced coursework, various disciplines, and careers in STEM. In addition to engaging activities, students also received a campus tour focusing on STEM facilities. “I really enjoyed the Communication Sciences and Disorders tour. The fact that you can improve someone’s speech and hearing within these facilities is amazing,” said Janelle Johnson.
While the focus of the Girls in STEM Conference is to foster interest in fields where women are underrepresented, the focus was not to create an atmosphere of competition against their male counterparts; but to plant seeds of interest and inquiry that will translate into meaningful careers and representation. After hearing from all-female student STEM panels and Cindy Hoover, the Vice President of the 777X Program at Spirit Aerosystems, Jedidah Isler, the first African-American woman in history to earn a Ph.D in astronomy (and the first at Yale University), concluded the conference by reiterating the importance of one’s dream. “When I was a little girl, I fell in love with the stars. I told myself, I’m going to be a scientist and I’m going to study stars. Now, I am the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale studying the stars. Dreams are real. Dream.”