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IRWINDALE (CBSLA.com) — Eighty female high school students from low-income, underserved schools in Los Angeles visited UCLA Tuesday for the first-ever “Empower Her: STEMDAY”.
The girls received hands-on exposure to research in science and technology, including launching a rocket and dissecting a human brain, and learned about career opportunities for women in a range of fields, from neuroscience to physics.
“Empower Her: STEMDAY”, which ran from 9 a.m. to noon, is a one-day event co-sponsored by the UCLA Brain Research Institute in hopes of inspiring young girls to pursue higher education and a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. It features 21 interactive informational stations manned by UCLA graduate students who were demonstrating basic concepts in human brain research, computer science, nanoscience, physics, environmental science and others.
Martina DeSalvo, a UCLA neuroscience graduate student, launched the program along with the Empower Her organization, which is a nonprofit focused on empowering women and girls.
“We really wanted to get these girls exposed to all of the sciences at a really early age, before they’ve come up with their own stereotypes of whether or not science is a girl thing,”STEMDAY organizer Martina DeSalvo said.
Organizers set of a goal of getting girls interested in possible careers in the field of science.
“If you look further at how many women are in the science work force, that’s down to twenty-four percent,” DeSalvo said. “So, we just see this gradual drop off in the sciences.”