STEM Girls 4 Social Good: Partnering with the FDA to Encourage the Next Generation of Women in STEM

Aug 8, 2018 1:45 PM ET
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Women comprise 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, but they hold only 24 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), according to research from the Economics and Statistics Administration. Though women are earning a greater share of undergraduate degrees overall, they are less likely to pursue STEM-related education.

Booz Allen is on a mission to close the STEM gender gap. Enter STEM Girls 4 Social Good (SG4SG), an initiative that empowers middle and high school-aged girls to learn STEM concepts and apply them to society's most pressing problems. The signature event of SG4SG, which ultimately seeks to inspire early excitement around science, math, and technology, is a week-long learning experience each summer. Now in its fifth year, SG4SG is tackling the social good challenge of public health safety to empower the next generation of women to pursue careers in STEM.

"In just 5 years, SG4SG introduced more than 200 DC-area middle and high school-aged girls to STEM concepts and empowered them to explore social good problems from new angles," said Cheryl Wade, Booz Allen’s diversity & inclusion lead and co-creator of SG4SG. "This innovative initiative breaks down barriers, builds confidence, and shows the next generation of STEM women leaders what's possible."

This summer's SG4SG program, which is a joint effort between Booz Allen and Girls Inc., featured an exciting new element: a partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This year’s social good challenge aligned with the FDA’s mission of public health safety. From July 23 to 27, participants visited multiple FDA locations to learn about topics ranging from clinical drug development to regulating color additives.

Participants had the chance to explore research laboratories related to veterinary medicine, learn about food safety and foodborne outbreaks, and discover how biotech medicines are manufactured and tested. SG4SG participants also gained exposure to experts from Booz Allen and the FDA, who shared their experiences as women in STEM.

SG4SG participants gain hands-on STEM experience and apply their knowledge to real-world social good problems. In past years, they tackled topics such as human trafficking and food deserts. Last summer, young women involved in SG4SG used STEM methodologies to study the intersection of cybersecurity and safety, a crucial topic for the next generation.

The best part? SG4SG has concrete results. Past participants reported increased interest in pursuing STEM-related coursework and careers, as well as increased confidence in STEM subjects.

SG4SG is bridging the STEM gender gap—one girl at a time.

To learn more about SG4SG, visit https://www.boozallen.com/about/social-impact/stem-girls-4-social-good.html.