Community Focus: Girls + STEM

The Junior League of Lancaster (JLL) is committed to supporting and encouraging young women to pursue STEM degrees and careers through our Girls in STEM Committee. In 2014, the JLL adopted STEM as one of two Issued Based Community Impacts.  STEM issues not only affect the girls in our community, but nationwide.  For example:

  • Women make up half the workforce, but less than 25% are in STEM jobs
  • 66% of 4th grade girls reported they like Science & Math, however, by college, only 18% of Engineering majors are female
  • There are currently more jobs in STEM fields than in any other industry
  • STEM careers will have the most job openings over the next 10-20 years
  • Women who work in STEM related fields are currently earning 33% more than their female counterpart

Girls experience many barriers that keep them from pursuing STEM careers, including:

  • Stereotypes – girls shouldn’t “get dirty” and need to “act like a lady”
  • Lack of exposure to STEM fields & hands-on STEM learning experiences
  • Absence of female role models in STEM fields
  • Females fear how they will be treated in a male-dominated fields
  • The belief that women in STEM careers cannot balance work demands with personal and family life

Our committee is currently developing our STEM Rain Garden Project and curriculum. We built two rain gardens this year, with at least three more planned for the spring! Our first garden was planted in June at the North Museum and our second was completed in October at the Stone Independent School. The students learned and used several STEM skills: 1) math, such as when they employed the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the pitch of the roof to determine the rate of runoff and how large the rain garden should be; 2) botany to determine what native species to plant; and 3) engineering by grading the land to allow for correct drainage. We are also competing in the Chamber’s #IMPACTLANCASTER you can follow our journey at https://www.facebook.com/JLLRainGarden/! If you are interested in installing a rain garden or finding out more information, please contact GirlsinStem@jllancaster.com.

The Girls in STEM Committee has been connecting and supporting current Lancaster County STEM programs with a focus on girls while also working to develop our own projects to encourage STEM learning. We work closely with the North Museum’s STEM Sisters program, providing mentors and volunteers to their events, and have sponsored the Lancaster Science Factory’s Girls Code Club for the last two years. In 2016, our committee sponsored the showing of the movie Hidden Figures, filling two theaters with almost 400 young girls. We will continue to look for more opportunities to connect and support young girls.