Monday, April 29, 2019

Women take the wheel

Last month, Girl Scouts of all levels met at Tidewater Community College for the Women Take the Wheel event. The girls were given the opportunity to explore nontraditional careers for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This allowed girls to ask questions about the career fields and gave them the hands-on experience with some of the equipment that would be used on the job.

Both male and female professionals from the trucking industry, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard and many careers that use STEM came to speak with the girls about the importance of women in these fields. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, more than three-quarters of the girls that have participated in events that integrate STEM professionals agree that “there is at least one adult who has helped me think about my future.” Having the chance to talk to professionals from these nontraditional careers opened girls’ eyes to paths that they may not have been exposed to and can play a pivotal role in their future.

“I loved everything about the event because I was able to join in on the demonstrations,” said Girl Scout Brooke. “I learned how to tie a maritime knot. I explored a simulation of a cargo ship, an 18-wheeler tractor trailer truck and a fire truck. I loved the Coast Guard boat and got to explore many interesting items (bullet proof vest and a cold-weather suit).”

Hands-on activities such as augmented reality (AR) technology and maritime simulators gave the girls a chance see how they would be able to use different technologies in various jobs. This allowed the girls to learn about STEM in new ways.

Augmented reality intrigued a lot of the girls. They learned that AR was used by Newport News Shipbuilding to quickly scan different items on the ship and instantly know whether something needs to be fixed and how to do it.

“We are using it [AR] to learn how to fix things on the ship,” Girl Scout Daisy Juliana Kiefer said while using the AR to point at different objects in the room.

Girls and their mothers were surprised at how many STEM opportunities there are for women.

“When I signed Sofia up for the event, I knew the direction of the event was something she’s never been exposed to before,” said Anna Patrizi, mother of Girl Scout Brownie Sofia. “As a parent, I feel like it’s important to give your child those opportunities. Women Take the Wheel seemed like such an empowering event.  We learned so much together. I think that’s what made this event extra fun for her. I watched her learn how to read a map, steer a cargo ship with the use of a simulator, learn the process to make parts from 3D imaging and make repairs with digital technologies. But most important, we learned these evolving jobs are available to women!”

Events like this and many others hosted by the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast help girls see the opportunities that are available to shrink the gender gap in careers that historically have been male dominated. There is no better time than the present to make a positive change in STEM careers with a larger representation of strong G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™.