Interest in STEM is not a genetic trait inherited at birth; it is a passion fostered from a young age spanning diverse cultures and both genders. A common misconception about STEM fields is that very few young girls are interested in the domain. The fact is girls are interested, and their interest needs to be promoted through active encouragement. The interest of girls in STEM was witnessed right here in San Antonio at the 2016 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Alamo Regional Robotics Competition that took place in March at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
Teams of high school students, approximately 4000 participants, from around the nation and world flocked to San Antonio to engage in “The varsity Sport for the Mind.” FIRST combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Approximately 200 female competition participants engaged with community mentors during the Women Are FIRST Meetup. For the past four years, Joules Webb, PREP Associate Director – Office of P20 Initiatives, has been spearheading the mentoring event.
The Women Are FIRST Meetup was implemented to provide girls’ access to role models and mentors through networking. STEM professionals mentor the young ladies who are part of the robotics teams in attendance at the event. The young ladies were provided STEM career insights through the personal stories shared by a career panel featuring Sandy Schlortt, Accenture Federal Services Delivery Center; Captain Beverly Moore, US Army; and Michelle Bourg, Entergy New Orleans, Inc. and Entergy Louisiana, LLC.
The meetup concluded with five young ladies awarded $500 scholarships each. One lucky door prize winner will be surfing the internet on her new Microsoft Surface 3.