A group of 18 girls at Zebulon Middle School have voluntarily taken on some extra after school science instruction, in the form of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Girls in Science program.
The program, which is held afterschool once a week for six weeks, is meant to get “middle school girls excited about science,” said instructor Stacie Hagwood. Hagwood teaches several outreach programs through the museum.
The class has a cap of 20 girls and because of interest, the current session of Girls in Science is actually Zebulon Middle’s second session.
“The staff here is phenomenal,” Hagwood sad. “I just haven’t had that experience. It went so well and we had so many girls that were not able to participate that (the school agreed) to host it again.”
Hagwood said one of the reasons she thinks the program has gone over so well at Zebulon Middle is because principal Dalphine Perry was equally as excited to have the program at the school as the girls were to participate.
“I started talking with Mrs. Perry a year ago and she just jumped on it,” Hagwood said. “I have buy-in from Mrs. Perry. Believe it or not, I had some schools that were not interested.”
The Girls in Science program has been around for about 22 years, Hagwood said. It’s meant to be a stepping stone to show girls what science is and introduce participants to female science professionals. This sesson, the girls will meet a female scientist who works with robotic prosthetics.
“Suddenly it’s not as socially correct to be interested in science when you’re (a girl) in middle school,” Hagwood said. She said the program is meant to encourage girls to pursue science as a career, one field where women are under-represented.
A report published by the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in September 2013 found that male graduates of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) were twice as likely to become employed in the same field.
In 2011, the report said, 26 percent of STEM workers were women and 74 percent were men.