UW to host hands-on workshop to inspire women to pursue science

May 13, 2013

Jessica Friis, a horticulturalist for the Paul Smith Children’s Village at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, watches two Douglas Middle School students during her “Hydroponic Plant” course at last year’s Women in Science Conference. More than 500 female high school and middle school students are expected to attend this year’s event at UW.
Credit Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium / University of Wyoming

More than 500 girls from across Wyoming will gather at the University of Wyoming Tuesday for the annual Women in Science Conference.

The Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium hosts the event, during which the middle- and high-school students learn about various applications of science, technology, math and engineering. In past years, students have identified animal skulls, developed computer games, and learned about anatomy in UW’s Human Cadaver Lab. Many of the scientists leading the programs are women.

Program Coordinator Michele Turner says students will visit from communities of all sizes, and students from some remote areas are less likely to be exposed to – and encouraged to pursue – the sciences.

“Especially for these smaller schools, for these kids to come in, experience the campus, and get to do some hands-on science. It’s exciting for them and they always seem to leave excited and inspired.”

Turner says women are underrepresented in the sciences – most scientists are men – and the Consortium wants to encourage Wyoming girls to follow their interests.

“A lot of the young men aren’t nearly as intimidated by it, and so if we can inspire young women, that’s just a larger workforce that we can prep for the future.”

Turner says familiarizing girls with UW’s campus and introducing them to the possibilities early could lead them to pursue scientific studies and careers. She adds that having a larger, more diverse community would be better for the sciences overall.