Portland, Ore. – The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) offers girls-only educational programming to encourage young girls to participate in, understand and enjoy Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).
Women have been historically underrepresented in STEAM professions and OMSI is actively working to change that narrative. A 2018 PEW Research study found this disproportionate representation is especially notable in engineering, computer and physical science occupations.
Launched five years ago, enrollment in OMSI’s girls-only programs continues to increase, necessitating more classes and instructors to accommodate the growing demand.
“We continue to grow our girls-only tech classes,” said Ashley Lorentzen, classes and traveling programs manager at OMSI. She added that despite the initial low enrollment, more and more girls are coming to OMSI each summer. It started with two classes and a handful of girls in 2014 and has expanded to seven classes with over 100 girls (and growing) learning how to design video games, build and program their own LEGO robots and program and code computers.
Lorentzen said these classes are an opportunity for girls to engage with STEAM in a way that empowers them with the necessary skills, support and resources to succeed. Regardless of the students’ prior experience with STEAM, OMSI’s classes offer a collaborative and enjoyable experience, where they can encounter science and technology in an engaging way.
Like OMSI, there are many organizations that care deeply about enabling and empowering girls in STEAM activities and education. Wells Fargo recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the museum to support girls’ education programming, which will provide support for educators and resources covering all-girl programs.
“At Wells Fargo, we believe that investing in our young people is the most important investment we can make. We also believe in providing equal access to education across our diverse communities,” said Tracy Curtis, Wells Fargo Northern Oregon region bank president. “That’s why we are so committed to supporting OMSI’s girls programming to inspire the next generation of women engineers, scientists and community leaders.”