"Michigan girl power fuels high school robotics growth"
"The FIRST robotics season kicked off this past weekend and organizers are pleased to see more girls participating Lori Higgins
That's key in a state that has invested heavily in boosting education in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and where there are many efforts under way to get girls into those fields. Michigan has excelled in robotics, the so-called sport of the mind. The state has 411 teams, far more than the second-highest state of California, which has 258 teams. And Michigan teams have a track record of excelling at the world finals.
In robotics, the growth in female participation is happening at all levels — on coed teams and all-girls teams.
"I'm seeing an uptick," said Gail Alpert, president of the state's robotics association. "They're taking on critical roles. They're drivers. They're coaches. They're mentors."
The growth is happening amid widespread efforts to get more girls to consider science careers. In January, the Michigan Science Center launched the STEMinista Project to encourage more interest in STEM careers among middle-school girls.
"Research tells us that middle school can be a make or break time in building interest in STEM and STEM careers," said Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the center.
Girls who sign up to be STEMinistas will have access to special programming at the science center in Detroit and an opportunity to meet and learn from women in STEM careers.
The project is aimed at combating numbers that show that while half the workforce is made up of women, less than 25% of the STEM workforce includes women. Also, statistics compiled for the project show that half the women in STEM careers leave those jobs in the first 10 years..."
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