JL Boston STEM: Nurturing Future STEM Leaders by: Sandra Williams

By Sarah Connelly

Close up of African American female elementary age student holds a model of the molecular structure. Focus is on the model, the girl is blurred in the background.Did you know that women make up only 10-30% of the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workforce? Or, that one of the biggest barriers for girls to develop their careers in STEM is their own confidence? With these startling statistics in mind, and a group of determined women leaders, the Junior League of Boston is looking to influence young girls to advance their careers in STEM.

The Junior League of Boston created the JL Boston STEM community service program for middle school girls to experience the enthralling world of STEM. Currently, JL Boston has STEM programming available in Dorchester and East Boston.  Junior League of Boston’s STEM for Girls program runs in Fall and Spring for 6-7 weeks. Girls are encouraged to ask questions, experiment and be a part of a movement to encourage today’s girls to be leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math. They are building confidence, making new friends, and problem solving, all in the care of Junior League members.

Each week, girls participate in hands-on activities and exciting field trips related to each field. Recently, the girls went on a field trip to The Makery where they built their own miniature light houses as part of the program’s engineering program.

Mary Jo (MJ) Germanos, this year’s chair for STEM East Boston, is thrilled with the program and the rewarding feeling of witnessing the girl’s accomplishments and growth. “This year we’ve been focused on developing deeper relationships with our girls, which has been a major benefit in hosting a smaller group (approx. 20) from last year (initially 40). We’re pleased to see so many familiar faces, and excited to have welcomed in so many new ones. I’ve observed so much personal growth in these young ladies. Their independence, confidence, and motivation is really blossoming and it’s been rewarding to witness. Our volunteers have put so much time and care into creating fun and interactive lesson plans; everyone seems to have been enjoying themselves.”