The STEM for Girls program brings 10–12-year-old girls from Yolo and Sacramento Counties to UC Davis for a fun and immersive day of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This year it won an Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine and featured in the September issue of the magazine along with 77 other award recipients.
The program, now in its eighth year, is a joint project of the Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC) and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. It aims to equip the approximately 60 girls from underrepresented groups who participate each year with the confidence to pursue their interest in a STEM field.
Over the course of their day on campus, the girls learn about math, food science, chemistry and more in workshops, demonstrations, lab tours and hands-on activities such as building electrical circuits. Volunteers, many of them UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students in STEM, answer questions and provide mentorship. “There is something profound and beautiful about being able to witness the growth of our UC Davis scholars and the growth of the youth we bring to campus happening at the same time,” said Sara Blair-Medeiros, assistant director of outreach at the WRRC. “The excitement of all those involved makes the months of planning the committee does worth it.”
Historically, the STEM fields have been stereotyped as “male spaces.” This belief has seeded implicit biases that dissuade girls and women and those with marginalized gender identities from entering these fields. STEM for Girls aims to help girls and those with marginalized gender identities imagine themselves in college and in STEM. “We get to positively impact young lives in wonderful ways,” said Blair-Medeiros, “by giving young people the keys to open their own minds and discover they are full of all the best things and the possibilities are endless.”