Building the Future Innovators and Leaders
One out of every seven engineers in the United States is a woman—and despite the growing knowledge of the lack of diversity in STEM fields, the number of women pursuing STEM careers has decreased from 37 percent in 1984 to just 18 percent today. STEM is the exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- we believe in utilizing both right and left-brain in activities that address concepts and with the addition of the Arts to create STEAM.
Inspire Girl Academy is providing a pathway for girls to discover individual passions through approaching problems, experimenting and finding solutions through trial and error. This is accomplished through STEAM immersion creating an environment where girls can take a risk, break boundaries, cultivate leadership skills and collaborate utilizing these principles in all areas.
According to non-profit Girls Who Code, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computing- related fields and women are on track to fill only three percent of those. Facts like these are alarming, but it's hard to know where to start to cultivate interest in these skills. That is why we started Inspire Girls Academy. Our mission and programming are based on five foundational pillars; inspiring success, cultivating leadership, breaking boundaries, focusing on risk taking and collaborating with the community.
A girl's self-esteem peaks at the age of 9, putting them at risk of being closed off to learning- our goal is to set a strong foundation early on planting the seed for STEAM. Along with teaching girls academic subjects, the camps, afterschool programs, and hands-on events around the city focus on building girls' self-esteem and letting them collaborate with one another. Inequities in the workforce are directly correlated to the lack of confidence and self-esteem issues of many young girls, which manifest at an early age, this self-dissatisfaction negatively affects girls’ ability to view themselves as equal competitors with men in STEAM-related fields and diminishes their self-concept of math and science aptitude.
The programming is single-gender because we want to create as supportive and stigma-free environment as possible. According to the book Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap by Peggy Orenstein girls get less attention in class, are called on less and interrupted more. They are generally taught to form more subservient habits while boys are encouraged to exercise dominance. Whether we like it or not STEAM fields are historically and currently male-dominated, we must nurture, protect, encourage, and harness girls’ interest in STEAM fields so that they are not deterred or intimidated by the “boy’s club” that is science.
As we continue to build out our programming, we want to have a lasting impact on the young girls in Chicago. You can take a look at our work in our first year of programming through a downloadable PDF.