Inspiring more women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers is the goal of the STEM Goes Red for Girls event sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University and the Central Kentucky American Heart Association on March 25.
Approximately 100 young women from local high schools assembled at EKU’s state-of-the-art Science Building to take part in hands-on STEM and heart-health related activities and interact with women from local organizations who have careers in STEM.
The event was funded in part by the Carol Barr Research and STEM Fund, which was established to support research and STEM programming for young women in Kentucky. Carol Barr was 39 years old when she unexpectedly passed away in June 2020 from a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse.
The Fund also provides six scholarships for high school girls from any of the 54 Kentucky Appalachian counties who decide to pursue degrees in STEM. Three scholarships will award $10,000 annually, renewable for four years. Three scholarships will award $2,500 one-year scholarships.
EKU confirms its commitment to the effort by providing full housing to scholarship recipients who decide to attend Eastern.
“With only 30 percent of women worldwide entering into STEM fields, it is critical that we invest in creating opportunities for women to easily access STEM education,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “EKU enthusiastically supports the Carol Barr Research and STEM Fund and will continue to seek innovative programming that encourages more women to pursue STEM majors and careers.”
Haven Jacob, a senior EKU pre-med major, provided insight to high school students. She said that these events are important for young women in order for them to believe their dreams about studying and working in STEM are possible.
“I almost cried, honestly, knowing that we are hosting an event for women in STEM,” Jacob said. “We like to pretend it’s not a thing, but in reality, being a woman in STEM is still a big uphill battle. As good as our world is becoming, there are still a lot of people who tell you, ‘If you want to have kids…’ or, ‘If you want to have a family, you’re not going to make it.’ Hearing stories and seeing students who did make it through, such as myself and my friends that were there, maybe they will know they are capable enough to be there.”
To learn more about the College of STEM at EKU, visit eku.edu/stem.
To learn more about the local chapter of the American Heart Association, visit heart.org/en/affiliates/kentucky/lexington.