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    My way to give back: A Kickstarter program to engage girls in science careers

     

    Recently, St. Mary’s College issued a report on the state of girls’ education in Indiana, and the news was not good. When it comes to the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in high school, boys outperformed girls across the board on AP STEM testing subjects (physics, chemistry, computer science, calculus, statistics, biology, and others).

    As assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Indianapolis, I was concerned about the future ramifications of these results, for the professions and for young women, so I decided to take action via a Kickstarter campaign and children’s book.

    I’ve published books for adults, but with this children’s book, I wanted to address the problem of getting girls excited about STEM careers early on. I was a girl who loved to read, and I’m a first-generation college graduate, so educational values are close to my heart. I wanted to help by providing a book for girls ages 5-9 to read that would get them get excited about STEM, because all research states that girls need to engage in exploring STEM careers before middle school if we want to keep them engaged long term.

    While pharmacy has seen a majority of women practitioners within the profession, the same cannot be said for other STEM professions. For example, in the United States, 89% of engineers are male. Coupled with this challenge is the fact that by 2018, the highest demand for professionals will be in the areas of computing (71%) and traditional engineering (16%). Girls’ interests in these two areas are actually decreasing, and even the numbers of girls who show interest in the life sciences are stagnating.

    As a pharmacist and STEM professional, I believe that it is time to help bring along other girls and women into STEM careers. It is a documented fact that when women choose STEM careers, the pay gap between genders starts to shrink. We need to provide career options that will enable women to become equal with men when it comes to pay and professionalism in the United States and abroad.

    I hope my fellow pharmacists will join me in supporting this initiative.

    The Kickstarter campaign allows for preorders of the book The Amazing Adventures of the Princesses from Planet STEM until November 1 at 10 AM. The site also provides updates to backers and the public on the project during the 31 days of the campaign throughout October.

    The project can also be followed on twitter (hashtag: #STEMPrincess) and on Facebook (search for “STEM Princess”).

    Erin Albert is assistant professor and director of continuing education and preceptor development at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

     

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