'Chicks in Science' event aims to crack stereotypes on science/technology careers for girls
January 20, 2010
Kim Schweikert, Kids on Campus coordinator, 896-5888
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Women make up 46 percent of the American workforce but hold just 25 percent of the jobs in engineering, technology and science, according to the National Science Foundation.
In an ongoing effort to encourage girls to explore those career options, Montana State University Billings will host the third annual “Chicks in Science” event, a one-day science and technology extravaganza that provides hands-on and minds-on interactive activities to introduce girls in grades 4-8 to various careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
It will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Alterowitz Gym at the MSU Billings main campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but is especially designed for young girls.
Kim Schweikert, Kids on Campus and outreach coordinator with the MSU Billings College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning, said the event is designed to expose girls to the fun aspects of science and math and encourage them to pursue educational studies in these areas. With about 50 booths featuring professional women currently working in those careers, girls also have a chance to build relationships, she said.
“Just as importantly, this reminds girls that you can be a cool chick and be smart at the same time,” Schweikert said.
Last year, the event drew more than 1,200 participants. Schweikert said the goal this year is to have even more participants. There will be several door prizes, plenty of chocolate and even some free manicures.
This year’s “Chicks in Science” will feature 50 booths with hands-on activities and each booth will have a woman who works as a professional in science- or math-related industry or academic field. This will provide one-on-one contact with important role-models who are also mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters with varied interests and life goals, Schweikert said.
The event was developed three years ago to encourage girls to enter math- and science-related fields. Studies show that between the fourth and eighth grades, girls start losing interest in math and science. Yet, industry surveys indicate that many emerging careers will require an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptive and collaborative skills gained through the study of these subjects.
Schweikert said that “Chicks in Science” works to breach the psychological barriers, gender expectations, and the “coolness” factors that can stop girls from entering science and math fields.
“Chicks in Science strives to abolish those negative and fearful attitudes about math and science and discredit the stereotype of the ‘nerdy’ scientist, especially for girls who are historically under-represented in STEM careers,” Schweikert said.
Participants can get an early feel for the event this month. The first 500 girls in grades 4-8 who go to Center Court at Rimrock Mall on Saturday, Jan 30 from 1-3 p.m. will receive a voucher for a free gift pack full of goodies on the day of the event. It is not necessary to pre-register unless participants want a bag.
For more information on this year’s “Chicks in Science” event, contact Schweikert at 896-5888 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information and a video of last year’s event can be seen at www.msubillings.edu/girls
PHOTO ABOVE: Girls explore scientific principles with a NASA scientist at last year’s “Chicks in Science” event at MSU Billings. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13 at Alterowitz Gymnasium.