Girl Scouts of Central Texas host panel about STEM careers for young women

The Girl Scouts of Central Texas is stressing the importance of engaging young women in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, subjects at a young age.



During a May 19 panel, CEO Lynelle McKay said the organization is doing everything it can through programs to get girls engaged in technology because only about 25 percent of the STEM workforce comprises women.



"If we aren't reaching out and engaging those girls, we are failing," she said.



The organization has locations in 46 counties in Central Texas and is the first chapter in the nation to initiate STEM curriculum geared toward young women in Girl Scouts. Programs include teaching girls about technology such as robotics. This year marks the 15th anniversary of its curriculum, McKay said.



The panel—hosted at its Austin location at 12012 Park Thirty Five Circle—included women and men in education and technology careers, including Savita Raj, executive director for the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering; Tricia Berry, director of the Texas Girls Collaborative Project; and Nikki Scofield Kennedy, instructional coach at Manor Middle School.



Scofield said studies show that middle school is a common time when girls start to become disinterested in STEM.



"The fact that fourth grade is when the [lack of interest in STEM] starts shows that its imperative that we begin talking to and encouraging our young ladies in STEM opportunities and STEM subjects at a much younger age," she said. " It's not just about encouraging our girls in STEM but encouraging them as a whole to be powerful in society."



High school senior Amy Quartaro is co-captain of the Girl Scouts Robotics Team. She said her experience in Girl Scout of Central Texas programs has better prepared her for studying aerospace engineering next year at The University of Texas. Quartaro also encouraged exposing girls to STEM curriculum as early as pre-K.



"As a whole, girls are really interested in STEM; they just don't think they can do it," Quartaro said.



Scofield Kennedy said providing young women with confidence in their intelligence can help engage their interest in STEM subjects. She said funding and volunteers are crucial to keeping programs afloat.



"We just have to do a better job at addressing the whole child so that they are able to have that confidence to do STEM careers, to think outside the box, to be wrong and be OK with it," she said.



Berry said that according to EngineerYourLife.org, the top 10 reasons STEM careers can be beneficial to women include job flexibility and satisfaction and earning a larger salary.



"You get to be creative, you get to work with fantastic people [and] you're never bored," she said.



In honor of the anniversary, the organization also recognized people and companies in the community that have contributed to programs for Girl Scouts, including Dell Inc., Microsoft Corp. and IBM.

By Lyndsey Taylor
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lyndsey began working as a reporter for the Northwest Austin edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2012. During her time as a reporter, she has covered Round Rock ISD, health care in the Austin metro area and Austin Community College. She was promoted to editor of the Cedar Park| Leander edition in 2015 and covers city and education news, including Leander ISD.


MOST RECENT

Williamson County courthouse
More than $2M of federal dollars to help Williamson County projects

County staff has identified a total of 10 high-priority projects countywide to be funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program.

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of one of four University of Texas-owned properties that could move through Austin's rezoning process over the coming months. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Public feedback process now open for rezoning of 4 UT-owned properties, including West Austin's Muny golf course

An initial public engagement session covering the Brackenridge tracts, where Muny is located, will be held June 21.

Survey crews will be out overnight along US 183 in Northwest Austin. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Survey work continues along US 183 in Northwest Austin

Motorists should look for overnight lane closures.

Coronavirus vaccines
Half of Williamson County’s population now vaccinated

Williamson County has crossed an important threshold in the quest to reach effective herd immunity.

The Office of Police Oversight released its first comprehensive report detailing its operations though 2019 and 2020 this June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Office of Police Oversight report finds complaints against Austin police officers went up, but discipline fell in 2020

The new report centers on the office's three main functions, including tracking APD officer discipline, reviewing the city's police policies, and engaging with Austin residents.

Volunteers of Austin Vaccine Angels gathered after becoming fully vaccinated. (Courtesy Jodi Holzband)
Grassroots groups aimed at vaccine outreach look toward the future

For the past five months, grassroots volunteer groups have been working to connect thousands of Central Texans to COVID-19 vaccines.

Round Rock ISD plans to spend about $9,265 per student for the 2021-22 fiscal year. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Round Rock ISD adopts FY 2021-22 budget with $17.2M deficit, says gap will be covered by staff turnover

District staff anticipate the deficit being covered with savings from staff turnover and unfilled positions.

Domain Northside
Westlake Dermatology to open Domain Northside clinic later this year

The local dermatology clinic chain will offer skin care treatments and more at this North Austin location.

Washington Prime Group Inc. owns six area shopping centers, including The Arboretum. (Courtesy The Arboretum)
Owner of Austin-area shopping centers files for bankruptcy; entertainment complex coming to Cedar Park and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

The Pflugerville ISD board received an update regarding reducing utility costs during a June 17 meeting. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pflugerville ISD moves to drastically reduce its utility costs

The district currently spends about $3.8 million in utility costs each year.

Photo of a woman and girl walking the trail with the Austin skyline behind them
Travis County commits to electrify fleet, doubles down on climate goals

Commissioners directed staff this week to develop a plan to fully electrify Travis County's fleet of vehicles, a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions for the county.

The Bloomhouse—an 1,100-square-foot home in the hills of West Austin—was built in the 1970s by University of Texas architecture students for fellow student Dalton Bloom. It was featured in the Austin Weird Homes Tour of 2020. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Weird Homes Tour ends; Z’Tejas to close Arboretum restaurant and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.