Environmental Specialist Kate Lindekugel had no idea until college that there were so many STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career options available to women.
“Gosh, I wish I’d known before that there were so many more careers for women talented in math and science other than being a doctor or nurse, ” said Kate. “It would have been good to at least know what’s involved in the different careers.”
Now, the RS&H environmental scientist is one of many to push for the next generation of girls to have access to STEM classes and programs – before they get to college.
STEM Like a Girl
In late February, Kate and Construction Management project engineer Julie Hero helped kick off Engineering Week with a STEM Like a Girl event at the Discovery Science Place in Tyler, Texas.
60 middle school-age girls participated. Broken up into groups of 15 students, the girls went from class to class for 30-minute blocks.
Kate taught a lesson on environmental science (the "S" in STEM), entering the class in her outdoor gear, looking like “Lara Craft from Tomb Raider,” she said with a laugh.
“I exposed them to all of the cool things that I get to do every day,” said Kate. “I get to go outside, pick up animals and play with them, and be in nature. That really resonated with them, I think.”
Julie Hero, for her part, taught classes on engineering (the "E"). Other female STEM professionals taught classes on mathematical algorithms (the "M") and computer programming (the "T").
RS&H Supports Discovery Place
RS&H’s Elevate Fund supported the Discovery Place in its first payout, providing general support for the center. Kate, who serves on the science center’s board of directors, sees free events like these as game-changers for girls.
“We get our ideas of what we should do with our lives from examples in our lives – like our parents and television,” said Kate. “Traditionally, for girls, that hasn’t meant STEM programs.”
But at the Discovery Science Place event, girls were able to interact with STEM professionals as well as college students and members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which sponsored the day-long STEM program.
“The girls were able to ask us questions during a lunch question-and-answer session, and they received thoughtful, honest answers without reservation,” said Kate. “More than that, they got to see a strong rand diverse representation of women in STEM and were able to envision the many paths they can take in their careers.”