It’s a Girls World Inc. is a STEM program designed to help young women explore careers in STEM, build confidence, and develop skills needed for the 21st century. The program began in 2017 with the plan to be a 3-year program. However, our first class asked to stay on and Girls World has now evolved into a 5-year program.
It consists of a two-week summer session, quarterly year-round mentoring sessions, and some off-season activities. During the two-week summer session, the girls engage in STEM activities that include guest speakers, hands-on experiments, learning to work in teams, public speaking, career exploration, and learning to start up a business enterprise. They develop and complete a community service project and take a field trip to places like the Franklin Institute, Liberty Science Center, and even New York City. Lunch is provided for the girls during the summer program. They also meet with their mentors (women from various STEM careers who volunteer their time). Follow-up mentor sessions take place once a quarter face to face.
Salem Community College graciously hosts our summer program (usually the last two weeks in July) and our quarterly Saturday mentoring sessions during the year. Rowan College of South Jersey, Gloucester campus, provides hands-on activities and the Society of Women Engineers, Student Branch at Rowan University, assists during the summer and mentoring sessions.
Years 4 and 5 include more in-depth career understanding and college exploration as well as mentoring the new incoming class. In Year 5, we are working on developing internships for the girls in STEM related fields to get hands-on experience.
Why Do We Do It?
Today women make up 50% of the labor force but only 28% in the field of STEM. In 2015, women received over half the undergraduate degrees in biological sciences, however, the numbers drop for computer science (18%), engineering (20%), physical sciences (31%), and math (43%). Actually, the STEM gap is getting larger, not smaller, as the job market increases. While women are underrepresented in STEM fields, there are even fewer women of color in them.
But why? Test results from 67 countries and regions shows that girls are doing as well or better in science subjects. Findings suggest that exposure to engineering and computing prior to high school improve interest in STEM careers in girls, along with social encouragement from friends and family.
By designing our program to expose young women to STEM careers while connecting them to solving real-world issues through our community service projects and business entrepreneurship program, we will encourage them to pursue STEM careers in the future.
It’s A Girls World Inc. started as an idea Rosanne Danner had. With the help of many others, the first class kicked off in July 2017 with nine girls. In 2019, there were 19 girls participating in the program. Currently, our class size is limited to 10 per year in each grade level class. This allows students to receive personalized attention and coaching. Regional , national, and even international expansion is planned to accommodate Cumberland County and Gloucester County in the near future first and then beyond. With the success of our teams at the Conrad Challenge, we have already built a bridge to a group of young women in Panama who want to enter our program soon.
We couldn’t have a successful program without our sponsors’ support. Their support is not just financial but they have provided mentors, activities, and guidance as part of our advisory board. The program costs are $1200 per girl per year.