By Jessica Onsurez
Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.
In 1911 Marie Curie was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry for her research in radioactivity. It was the second Nobel Prize awarded to Curie, a Russian-born woman who pursued her scientific studies in Paris.
A woman in science was rare in the 1900s, and national statistics show that it continues to be a field dominated by men.
Females represent only 24 percent of the US workforce in science, technology, engineering and math fields according to a Department of Labor statistics.
At the secondary and post-secondary levels, women enrolling in science- and mathematics-related courses are at a dismal low, according to the Department of Education, especially when you consider that women make up more than half of the college graduates in the nation.
When President Barack Obama set a national educational goal of moving the US students back into the top ranking among science and math in 2009, it was with a vision of targeting American children who were still in grade school to develop an interest in scientific fields.
For three days this week, 19 girls from Carlsbad will be building their interest in the sciences at the Carlsbad Girl Scouts headquarters, where a STEM Day Camp is being held.
“All of our programs are about leadership and so science is one of the areas where girls fall behind,” said Christie Patton, of the Girls Scouts of Carlsbad. “We encourage girls to pursue careers in the STEM fields so that they can look at those opportunities just like guys do,”
Throughout the Carlsbad school district, access to labs allowing students to explore interests in areas of science, technology and engineering is increasing, according to Kelli Barta, director of Secondary Education.
“By adding labs at the elementary and middle school levels we’re already seeing more female students express further interest in STEM courses and pathways,” she said.
For those women who do manage to build STEM-related careers, the payoff can be immense. According to the Department of Labor women in STEM fields will make 33 percent more on average than woman in other leading fields.
But challenges still abound for professionals of the female sex in all careers. President Obama said in a national address April 8, which is Equal Pay Day, women still receive only 77 cents on the dollar when compared to their male counterparts.