By Emily Warpool
NKU Marketing + Communications contributor
In late July, a group of 4th–12th grade girls spent an entire day learning about the technological and ecological innovations on Northern Kentucky University’s campus. The group toured the Campus Recreation Center, Griffin Hall, The Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Science Center, and the power plant.
The day-long tour was a part of STEM Girls Day Out, an initiative offered by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce designed to garner interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More than 300 girls visited 13 different businesses in the area throughout the day.
It’s common knowledge that females who work in STEM careers are drastically outnumbered by men. What is often overlooked, however, is that at the high school level, males and females take science and mathematics courses at equivalent percentages—with females leading in the number of calculus and algebra II students.
So, what changes between high school and when the girls enter into higher education and the work force?
There is a noticeable disconnect between what girls like, what they’re good at, and what they actually end up pursuing. Whether due to lack of encouragement because of “traditional” gender expectations and stereotypes, lack of examples, or lack of opportunities, only 13 percent of engineers are women, and women represent only 25 percent of the computer and mathematical sciences, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
During the tour of the physical plant, plant supervisor Mike Scott explained to the group how the building was responsible for heating, cooling, running water, and providing electricity to the entire campus.
The tour made it to the underground tunnels, which are “an entire city beneath NKU that nobody even knows about,” says Melanie Hartzel, director of NKU Community Connections.
There are several organizations dedicated to encouraging the bright young female minds within the STEM fields, such as Women in STEM, Girls in IT, and several others.
Touring NKU gave the girls a view of the inner workings of buildings on campus and showed just how important scientists, engineers, and mathematicians have at the University every day.