Boston Girls Explore STEM Careers through Earthwatch Fellowship

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A student fellowship program gives young women from Boston Latin School the opportunity to experience life as a scientist.

In July 2017, five female high school students from Boston Latin School traveled to Cortez, Colorado to work alongside Dr. Susan Ryan and her all-female research team as part of Earthwatch’s Girls in Science fellowship program. The students spent the week excavating ancestral Pueblo households and analyzing artifacts at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. They were joined by five female students from Ramona High School in California.

“Engaging young women is so important because a lot of the sciences are dominated by males,” said Ryan. “We need to empower them so they know they’re completely capable of doing the same exact job that men have traditionally done in these disciplines.”

Boston has consistently been ranked as among the top 10 metro areas in the U.S. for STEM jobs, but according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, only about 30% of jobs in STEM fields are held by women in Massachusetts.

Earthwatch, a Boston-based non-profit organization, launched Girls in Science in 2016 to arm young women who have a vested interest in science with the skills and confidence to pursue higher education opportunities and careers in STEM fields.

During their time in Colorado, the student fellows participated in facilitated learning sessions focused on developing story-telling skills, exploring women in science, and understanding the impacts of climate change and sustainability on their local environment.

“I have always been an indecisive person, but there’s one thing I’m sure of – that my future will be in science,” said Boston Latin student Kelly Chin. “The opportunities I have been given, including joining this Earthwatch expedition and meeting amazing females in the science field, have given me the confirmation and encouragement I needed to go for it.”

Over the next decade, the U.S. needs an additional one million STEM professionals beyond what is projected at the current rate to retain the country’s historical preeminence in science and technology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Women can play a critical role in closing the future STEM workforce gap,” said Earthwatch CEO Scott Kania. “By connecting young women with leading female scientists on Earthwatch research expeditions, we aim to provide students with the confidence they need to follow their passions.”

Earthwatch’s Girls in Science program is funded by the Harry H. and Anna Borun Foundation.

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Earthwatch Institute (earthwatch.org) is an international nonprofit organization that connects citizens with scientists to improve the health and sustainability of the planet. Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has empowered nearly 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to join leading scientists on field research expeditions that tackle critical environmental challenges around the globe – from climate change to ocean health, human-wildlife conflict, and more. Earthwatch works with all sectors of society, from corporations to teachers, students, community leaders, zoos and aquaria, and more.

Media contacts:
Alix Morris, Earthwatch Institute, amorris(at)earthwatch(dot)org, 978-450-1229

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Alix Morris
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