New “Girls in STEM” summer camp aims to bridge the field’s gender divide
Women have been historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1970, women made up only 8% of STEM workers, and in 2019, that figure jumped to 27%.
Women make up nearly half the American workforce, so there’s still room to improve.
Addison Hobbs, an educator for the Aspen Science Center, hosts STEM exploration hours at libraries in the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys, and she’s introducing a new summer camp tailored for girls.
In the new “Girls in STEM” class, students will study rocketry, robotics, and environmental science over the course of five days.
Hobbs, on May 12, said she was excited that one of her favorite students will participate.
Eliza Spies is 7-years-old, but at a recent “STEM Exploration Hour” at the Rifle Branch Library, Hobbs said that Spies started coming to Aspen Science Center programs when she was 5-years-old, and she showed a lot of motivation to learn.
“She has more excitement for science than I think I've ever seen in an individual,” Hobbs said.
For Spies’ first class, Hobbs said she was dressed in classic scientific attire.
“The first time I ever met her, she had gloves on, glasses, ready to do science,” Hobbs said. “She's always showed up to these with that level of enthusiasm. She’s probably going to win a Nobel Prize, if I had to make any wagers.”
Spies is signed up for two of the Aspen Science Center’s classes this summer, “Girls in STEM” and “M.D. Academy for Kids,” where she’ll learn about different systems in the human body.
Hobbs said it’s important to expose girls to science at a young age, but making sure they can see themselves as scientists is even better.
“You don't have to have the crazy hair and the old man Einstein vibe to do science,” Hobbs said. “You can be anybody.”
She added that there’s a lot of STEM programs and careers available to women, so to further bridge the gender divide, girls need more encouragement to explore those opportunities.
“The jobs are there,” Hobbs said. “The educational systems are there. It's just encouraging these women to not only study it, but to go after that internship, to go after the externship, and finding those fellowships.”
Hobbs hopes that her role as a teacher and a scientist can be a special inspiration for girls like Spies.
“I think more than just the educational aspect and teaching them the themes and the topics under the STEM umbrella, it's offering them a place to have a mentor and to have someone that can guide them in the right direction,” Hobbs said.
Learn more about the Aspen Science Center’s “STEM Exploration Hour” and its various summer camps at aspensciencecenter.org.