UM to Host Third STEM Career Conference for Middle-School Girls

January 08, 2016

MISSOULA – One hundred middle-school girls will gather on the University of Montana campus on Saturday, April 23, for the third annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference, a full day of workshops exploring STEM careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The conference, organized by UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, is an opportunity for sixth- to eighth-grade girls to engage in workshops led by female scientists, engineers and technology specialists from UM, as well as local STEM businesses and organizations. Conference registration begins Monday, Feb. 1, online at http://www.missoulagirlsstem.net.

“Last year, memorable moments cited by participants included ‘being rolled on a gurney into the helicopter,’ making aspirin, ‘flying’ in the physical therapy lab, learning research can be fun, making new friends and realizing ‘that I can do anything,’” said UM curriculum and instruction Professor Lisa Blank, who directs the conference. “The 2016 slate of workshops promises to be equally exciting.”

STEM role models and hands-on activities are designed to motivate girls to continue their studies in science and math so they can become innovative and creative thinkers who are ready to embrace their goals, aspirations and 21st-century challenges.

Margaret Mead Gill, an electro-physicist at The Boeing Company in Seattle, will deliver the conference keynote address. Carson MacPherson-Krutsky, a UM geosciences graduate student, will lead a workshop called “When the Earth Shakes.” MacPherson-Krutsky is especially interested in how scientists communicate and says more young women need to step forward to be role models to show girls “that you can really do this.”

A recent report by the American Association of University Women, supported by the National Science Foundation, found that because most people choose careers in which they believe they can do well, girls’ lesser belief in their skills may partly explain why fewer young women go into scientific careers. Expanding Your Horizons female workshop hosts from the University and the private sector donate their time in an effort to provide real-life role models and eliminate the notion that it is unfeasible for women to excel in STEM fields.

For more information about the EYH Conference, visit http://www.missoulagirlsstem.net   or call Blank at 406-243-5304.

Contact: Lisa Blank, UM curriculum and instruction professor, 406-243-5304, lisa.blank@umontana.edu.