According to the National Student Clearinghouse, 38 percent of GPS alumnae who graduated from college between 2011-14, received a degree in a STEM field. If roughly two out of five of our students pursue and achieve degrees in STEM, it’s imperative we continue to nurture those interests with opportunities that extend beyond the classroom, said GPS officials.
One way is through the new Women in STEM Lunchtime Learning Series, which invites women in STEM careers to campus—particularly GPS alumnae—to interact directly with students.
“A common misconception, by me, is that everything new and innovative happens in places like New York or Silicon Valley,” said Astha SInha ’21. “I found it helpful to see what women are doing in Chattanooga—women with many different interests who chose to work in more than one STEM field.”
The casual lunchtime learning format allows girls to connect with women who might inspire them to forge ahead with careers in STEM, and we are hopeful these personal interactions could also lead to internships, work-study placements, or mentoring relationships.
These real-world opportunities are a particularly crucial component, as girls who are paired with mentors in STEM careers are more likely to feel they will be successful in that field, according to a study by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions.
This year GPS students have heard from several women working in information technology and procurement at UNUM; three GPS alumnae working in healthcare—a nurse, physician’s assistant, and doctor; and the director of UTC's Center for Urban Informatics & Progress.
Hosting women working in a variety of roles within the same company allows them to explain their individual career paths. Oftentimes women are the only female in their department, and they can speak to the importance of building networks of women for support and share how they interact with peers in the workplace.
“I thought I was pretty sure what career path I wanted to go down, but I learned that there is so much more happening in STEM right now than I thought,” said Hannah Grace Kornberg ’23. “I was in awe as I learned about some of the projects in Chattanooga, for example the technology being tested to alert citizens when the air quality is bad.”
This semester, GPS is pursuing connections with women in engineering from Tennessee American Water, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Woods Engineering, and a firm of local architects.