Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas teams up with Texas Instruments to launch new badge, interest local girls in STEM
National Girl Scout study finds STEM a top interest among girls, but barriers still exist
DALLAS, Feb. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A groundbreaking new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), "Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math" released nationally on Feb. 14th, shows more than 70 percent of high school girls across the country are interested in these fields. While this is more than expected, this study still shows that few girls consider STEM their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM would like to pursue STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it is their first choice.
Through a partnership with Texas Instruments (TI), Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) is setting out to change these numbers. TI is leading the way in programming to promote STEM skills to local Girl Scouts.
This year, TI sponsored and helped launch the first ever "engineering badge," a patch for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade. The badge curriculum focuses on exciting, engaging and encouraging girls at every grade level to explore STEM education and careers. The badge will be available to all 35,000 Girl Scouts in Northeast Texas and will be a part of the program for the 4,400 underserved girls who experience Girl Scouts through the "Gift of Girl Scouting".
"Girl Scouts' study found that girls' interest in STEM is higher when they have exposure to those fields and only 46 percent of those surveyed knew a woman in a STEM career," said Trisha Cunningham, TI Chief Citizenship Officer. "That's why we partnered with Girl Scouts to develop a badge program where girls can have fun learning more about STEM and we can encourage area women engineers to get involved as role models."
Through this programming, younger Girl Scouts will experience STEM through hands-on projects, and older Girl Scouts will be introduced to career choices and, most importantly, mentors in STEM careers. Since girls typically opt out of STEM classes as early as fifth grade, TI is eager to generate excitement about the possibilities offered by STEM in hope that these girls will someday choose engineering as a career, a field that continues to be underrepresented by women.
A special part of the TI grant will fund GSNETX' College Journey, a weeklong program at Texas Women's University that provides high school girls the opportunity to network with professional women in STEM careers and gain first-hand experience.
The GSRI study also indicated that gender barriers still persist. About half of all girls feel that STEM is not a typical career path for girls. In fact, about 57 percent of girls say that if they went into a STEM career, they would have to work harder than a man just to be taken seriously.
"In my first career as an engineer, I often found myself in classrooms full of male students," said Colleen Walker, Chief Executive Officer of GSNETX. "In my current role, and as the mother of a Girl Scout, I recognize that in today's world, girls need extra encouragement to continue with STEM education. They also need to see successful women in those fields, which is something that Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas strives to provide through our partnership with Texas Instruments."
STEM skills are critical for all girls, not just those who have plans to become engineers or scientists. According to the new research, girls that have an interest in STEM take an inquisitive approach to learning: 85 percent like to solve problems, 83 percent like to do hands-on science projects, and 89 percent ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions.
"This will serve them well in whatever career they pursue in the future and Girl Scouts feels that this commitment to analytical learning serves all girls," Walker said.
"Strong science and math skills are critical for success in high school, college, and future career accomplishments, even beyond engineering and science careers," Cunningham said. "At TI, we see a great demand for female engineers so it is a natural fit for us to partner with the largest pipeline for female leadership. We understand that in order for girls to choose a STEM-related career, they need a greater understanding of their opportunities and access to successful role models."