Women in STEM Day encourages girls to pursue science, tech careers

Published: Feb. 2, 2019 at 7:57 PM AKST
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Women around the world who are in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers are by far in the minority, but an event in Anchorage is part of the movement to help change that.

In an effort to encourage girls to choose STEM careers, Girls Scouts of Alaska hosted Women in STEM day at the University of Alaska Anchorage on Saturday. The event was one of many over the past 25 years, with about 600 girls attending.

"It's all about doing hands-on things in STEM," said Kelly Fitzgerald of Girl Scouts of Alaska. "So girls get to try things out, and women who work in STEM fields are here presenting.

"It's about discovering different careers in STEM," she said, "but it's just as much about building character and grit and curiosity."

One station was designed to teach girls about the physics of rock climbing; another, with gumdrops and toothpicks at the ready, meant to demonstrate how support beams work, but on a miniature scale.

"Girl Scouts is about courage, confidence and character," Fitzgerald said. "And one of those character traits is curiosity. I think that's one of the big things these girls take away: This encourages them to try out different things, they get their hands dirty, and they're not afraid to fail."

At least one of the young attendees of the event isn't shy about the mission the group is on, either.

"People say it's an 'after school program,' but it's not," she said. "We're changing the world one girl at a time."

Video airing in the Channel 2 Late Edition is by photojournalist Phil Walczak.