IWIT seeks to recruit more women and girls to STEM jobs
By Susan Hoskins Miller
You might not expect to find an 1830s interactive history park involved in initiatives to attract girls and women to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) but that’s exactly what Conner Prairie Interactive History Park has been doing for the past four years.
“We’re moving beyond bonnets and butter churns,” Conner Prairie Program Developer Gail Brown said. “We’re using the history of today to help build history for tomorrow. History is full of science and engineering historic stories.”
Conner Prairie has hosted the Passport to High Tech event for the past four years that brings elementary school-age girls to the museum to learn about STEM careers. Exhibits, speakers, activities and women who already work in STEM careers are on hand to interact with the girls to educate them on all the possibilities that exist right now and to encourage them to think about careers in these fields.
“We hope to inspire them to enter STEM careers by highlighting what’s going on here in central Indiana,” Brown said.
On Aug. 17, Conner Prairie is co-sponsoring an event on the campus of the University of Indianapolis called “Ignite Your Super Power,” focusing on 600 middle school girls from Warren Township and IPS schools.
“They will see 100 different exhibits, hear speakers, learn about companies, colleges, organizations and other program providers,” Brown said. “We will be highlighting women workers who will be role models or mentors to inspire girls to show them how to get there. “
Brown said the event won’t focus only what the girls can look forward to in their futures, but show them ways to get involved right now through things like summer camps, joining organizations, volunteering and student internships.
“We want to light that fire, show them a path and keep them involved,” she said. “Companies have materials to give to teachers to make bridges available for the girls to build their curiosity for STEM and keep their passion alive.”