Learning how to fly drones, conduct chemical experiences and create computer codes are normal fare for GE summer campers.
GE created a program in 2011, called GE Girls, at MIT. Today the company partners with over 20 universities across the country in introducing middle school girls to the world of science, technology, engineering and math. To date, the program has served over 2,600 students.
In addition to spending $250 million promoting STEM since 2005, GE has a Women’s Network, which includes women leaders from each of its businesses globally, driving several initiatives, including partnering with the Society of Women Engineers to support engineering scholarships and working to increase the representation of women in technical entry-level leadership programs and in STEM roles across the company.
This summer, with the help of GE volunteers and local community groups across the country, hundreds of girls have been busy learning what can be accomplished through the wonders of STEM:
• At MIT, GE Girls spent the week learning about several topics, including chemistry electronics, aviation and construction. They got hands-on soldering experience where they learned about completing circuits, and they tested a virtual reality flight simulator after learning about the science of airplanes. One girl in the program said, “It was cool to do these activities, instead of having to listen and watch it happen.”
• At Northeastern University, more than 30 girls participated in the week-long event along with five GE Girls alumni. They enjoyed a field trip to GE Healthcare where they got some hands-on experience in the laboratories, purifying milk proteins and extracting strawberry DNA. One girl noted, “I now know that engineers can work on all kinds of things from airplane engines to bioreactors to new sources of renewable energy.”
• At the Milwaukee School of Engineering, nearly 40 middle school girls in the GE Girls program learned about the malleability of metals in order to make bracelets and studied chemical equations with the goal of creating their own lip gloss. Thirteen-year-old Nola Hennen described her introduction to STEM by saying, "It's actually pretty fun. It's more fun than you would think it is.”
• At Penn State, 50 GE Girls participants created computer-programed Lego alligators by building electric circuits and experimenting with design software. One middle schooler, Sammy Fellow, said of her time at the program, “I’m only 12, so I’m not entirely sure how this will all play out, and I’ve put a lot of my energy into dancing at this point. But it’s nice that we get to come here and create things. It really has me thinking, ‘OK, maybe I do have a future in engineering,’ and I never thought about that until this week.”
• At Howard University in Washington D.C., over 40 female students learned how to fly drones and fight back against cyber-attacks. The GE Girls participants ended the week on Capitol Hill, meeting with representatives and promoting the education of girls in STEM. When speaking to the girls about their futures, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester put it best when she said, “see it,
These programs are essential to getting girls interested in STEM careers since currently, only 14% of all engineers and 25% of all IT professionals are women.
Though women make up 55% of all college and graduate students overall, only 18% of computer science graduates are female, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics.
“Investing in women is investing in our future,” says Ann Klee, vice president Environment, Health & Safety at GE in a company blog. “If we want to continue to be leaders in the world of innovation, we need a diverse workforce that allows us to reach our full potential. GE is committed to helping balance the equation by promoting a future where female students have every opportunity to succeed in the world of STEM. “