By Ella Nilsen
The Keene Sentinel, N.H.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM for short, is a career field that takes a lot of education and pays off with enviable salaries.
It’s also a career field dominated by men.
Only 24 percent of the entire STEM workforce is made up of women, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
That has a lot to do with perception; a 2010 report by the American Association of University Women found that stereotypes about girls not being good at math and science affected their interest in the subjects.
But programs encouraging girls to enter the field are growing.
On Friday, a group of 28 freshman girls from Keene High School traveled with Cheshire Career Center Interim Director Thomas Burke to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Women in Science and Technology Forum for High School Girls at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.
There, they attended speeches and workshops, listening to women in successful STEM careers talk about their experiences.
Over the course of the day, the girls heard from an electronics technician in the U.S Navy, clinical pharmacists and the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Ann Marie Thomas, an engineering professor educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The girls had a lot of great things to say about their trip to Manchester.
“We all really liked it,” said 14-year-old Maggie Cahoon. “They’re finally realizing women are needed as much as men in (these) careers. … It’s good that they’re doing it now so that we can prepare ourselves to be what we want to be.”
Maggie said she is interested in entering the medical field someday, possibly to be a doctor.
“In 5th grade, I decided I want to do a medicine-type thing,” she said, adding she’s always been interested in math and science.