Dennis Township Middle School girls enjoyed a special presentation during their study hall and lunch period by four women from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) regarding STEM careers.
STEM, an acronym for Science Technology Engineering and Math, includes a number of potential careers where women are underrepresented, such as computer science where women make up only eighteen percent of computer science graduates.
Organized by Principal Jamie VanArtsdalen, the event was designed to give girls in grades six through eight an opportunity to interact with women who have made careers in various STEM fields.
“My goal in bringing these women here to speak to our girls is to increase their awareness of options they have as they get ready for high school and their futures,” explains VanArtsdalen. “Statistics show that girls lose interest in science and math subjects between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, so if we can keep them interested now, maybe that will carry some of them into those fields in college and beyond.”
Presenters Nancy Mauro and Alice Gibson are both civil engineers for Cape May County, Dr. Terri Morrison is a veterinarian at Ocean View Veterinary Hospital, and Stormy Freese is a microbiologist with the Cape May Mosquito Commission.
All four women talked with the girls about their backgrounds, education and professions. They described how these fields are challenging and fulfilling regardless of the obstacles they had to overcome in pursuit of their careers. They also encouraged the girls to explore STEM fields, starting with the new STEM special class being offered this school year in Dennis Township.
Girls were also encouraged to ask questions and several did, including an eighth grader who asked about pay inequality for women working in traditionally male occupations.