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A U.S. Department of Commerce report says women hold just 24 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, even though women are nearly half the workforce.
Drexel University’s Society of Women Engineers is trying to change this statistic by encouraging the next generation of female students to become better equipped for futures in STEM fields.
SWE worked to help girls learn about STEM by hosting female middle school students at Drexel for educational sessions during Engineers Week in February, said Emily Buck, the organization’s outreach director.
“Since these events were so successful and rewarding, we wanted to do something a little bit bigger and more independent,” said Buck, a materials science and engineering student.
On July 13, SWE partnered with Comcast Corp. and Tech Girlz, a local nonprofit for girls interested in technology, to host its first technical workshop at the Bossone Research Center. Young attendees learned about podcasts and were introduced to women currently working tech-related jobs.
The workshop paired 15 girls from local Philadelphia middle schools with eight SWE volunteers for a “Podcast 101” session that explained what a podcast is, where to find one and how podcasts are made and shared. The SWE volunteers helped the girls develop a topic and script for a podcast they were tasked with recording and editing using Audacity software.
“At the end, we played the podcast from each of the groups for the entire workshop to show what everyone came up with,” Buck said.
Three female Comcast employees spoke with attendees about their careers in the technology field. The speakers were Sherita Ceasar, vice president of national video deployment engineering and former national SWE president, and Amie Ryno and Kiely Hall, two Comcast university recruiters.
Buck said SWE is already working on creating a second technical workshop to teach another skill. She hopes to continue the organization’s partnership with Comcast as well as its connection with TechGirlz, which provided materials for the first event.