Programs offered by the University of Iowa to draw more young people into the so-called STEM fields appear to be working. The number of students attending STEM-related workshops sponsored by the U of I during the past year increased substantially.
More than 37,000 students participated in at least one of the UI Healthcare programs tied to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math during 2017. That represents a 64 percent increase from a year ago. There was an even higher increase in the number of young women engaged at 77 percent. The coordinator of STEM education at the University, Emily Strattan, says it’s largely because of a program aimed at sixth-through-eighth graders called Girls Go STEM.
“Women tend to be underrepresented in STEM," she says. "They’re about 29 percent of the STEM workforce, so that has been a big target of ours, to engage young females in STEM.”
Strattan says over the next 12 months the programs will reach out to draw the interest of even more students.
“We’re trying to target students of diverse ethnic backgrounds, targeting students from rural areas who maybe don’t have the access or funding to attend a STEM program here on campus,” she says.
Sixty-eight percent of the students who took part in one of the U-I programs in 2017 were girls.