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Fleet Science Center Tracks Girls into STEM with Education Programs

The Fleet Science Center is moving forward gender equity by helping female and female-identifying young people find opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


SciTech, BE WiSE, Girls-Only Science Clubs, Women Scientists in Action Camps Inspire Next Generation of Female and Female-Identifying STEM Professionals.

The Fleet Science Center is moving forward gender equity by helping female and female-identifying young people find opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM professionals are more vital than ever. They’re needed to address issues such as climate change, research and find medical solutions, to push progress in the digital world, and much more.

STEM careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are forecast to grow 10.8% by 2031, compared with 4.9% growth in other occupations. Although a typical STEM professional earns two-thirds more than a worker in other fields, according to Pew Research Center, only 27 percent of the U.S. women workers are employed in STEM careers, says the U.S. Census Bureau.

The American Association of University Women says that girls are “systematically tracked away” from STEM learning, so their opportunities are limited. This phenomenon is a product of long-standing gender stereotypes in a male-dominated culture. Girls have few role models and even hear that they don’t belong in STEM. The result: Girls have less chance to develop an identity that includes STEM. Therefore, in its commitment to foster the development of STEM identities in San Diego County youth, the Fleet offers inspiring programs for girls.

STEM After School 

The no-cost Sci-Tech after-school program for girls in grades 4–6 offers weekly two-hour sessions during the school year on the participating schools’ campuses. Students engage in hands-on science investigations covering a range of topics, including geology, solar car design and household chemistry.

Key to the program are the Fleet Science educators who also serve as strong role models, embodying an “I can do that” attitude. The students make their way to a culminating annual challenge through a project-based learning approach. They make concrete connections to everyday life while developing problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

Pathways to Professions 

Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE) is at STEM community-building program for students in grades 7–12 (and beyond).

BE WiSE engages female and female-identifying students with exciting STEM learning experiences in partnership with the region’s research, industry and academic institutions. Students interact with professionals, expanding knowledge of STEM fields and creating a community.

Through BE WiSE, students can participate in events designed to deepen their understanding of STEM fields. Students engage in hands-on activities and experiments, and importantly, interact with STEM professionals. Women scientists share their knowledge and passion about their experiences. The program also offers events for high school students to encourage the selection of more science and math courses.

Once BE WiSE members graduate from high school, they transition to alumna status. The Fleet is proud that so many alumnae remain in the program as volunteers, role models and mentors.

The result of this ongoing, immersive participation is that students sustain their interest and involvement in STEM.

Creating Communities

Girls-Only Science Clubs for students ages 10–14 are the perfect place for female and female-identifying children to connect and explore. Topics vary each month so participants experience a wide range of STEM learning.   

Women Scientists in Action Summer STEM Camp shows students in grades 5–8 STEM opportunities they can pursue. All programs offer interactions with women STEM professionals. In this weeklong summer camp, students explore not only the power of science but also their own potential.

These important, complementary education programs are just one of the many ways the Fleet Science Center, as a countywide organization, creates a nurturing system to support the next generation of STEM professionals and responsible stewards of San Diego County.

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