Electric Girls looks to encourage girls through STEM and build confidence for them as they go through a field that has historically been dominated by men. In 2015, Flora Serna and Maya Ramos founded Electric Girls because of their experiences being the only women in their engineering and computer science programs. So, they looked to create an environment where girls can learn with and from one another hoping to come up with a solution to the question of why there are so few women in STEM.
Electric Girls is able to create this community by using STEM education. Suzanne Torregano, the executive director of Electric Girls, explains that they achieve their mission by building a foundation in STEM skills and then giving them the space, resources, and guidance to actually implement these skills. Girls that go through this program are then encouraged to come through and take on a leadership role in order to encourage and mentor the next generation coming up.
As girls enter into the ages of 16-18, they have the chance to join the Teen Advisory Board (TAB). This position gives girls a chance to use their voice to advocate for themselves as well as others while also providing additional insight to various programs at Electric Girls. In addition to learning how to use their voice in an advocating manner, these girls are also building leadership skills that can benefit them as they progress thorugh each season of their lives from highschool all the way to college and eventually when they enter the
This isn’t the only thing that they either! Electric Girls yields a plethora of programs all aimed at encouraging and teaching. In regards to these programs, Torregano states “During our programs, girls learn soldering, coding, woodworking, engineering, circuitry, and all things STEM. This fall, we actively have partnerships with several schools throughout the parish where we will be offering STEM afterschool programming. These activites should help to strengthen the skills that the girls need in their current classes.”
Torregano shares: “Since our inception, we normally see between a 40 – 50% return rate during our programs. With high quality programming, the girls learn something different every time they come and are continuously challenged to stretch themselves a little further with each interaction. Also, some of our previous campers have now become instructors who are enrolled in college and have decided to pursue some area of STEM.” This past summer alone, they were able to reach over 300 girls.
They don’t plan on stopping there, either! Torregano excitedly shares her plans for the future, stating, “Down the road, we hope to continue to grow our organization and offerings. We envision incorporating Parent Engagement activities, having multiple locations around the city for our summer camps so that transportation is never a barrier for attendance, and, because we know that active learning begins at an early age, creating an early childhood STEM program.”
As a nonprofit, Electric Girls relies on the community for support to keep their mission going. Whether that is through monetary donations, time, or just spreading the word on this great organization, the local community plays a vital role in helping young girls discover and nurture their love for STEM. Torregano shares, “Volunteers are extremely important because they assist with our programming, encourage the girls in all that they do, assist our instructors, teach the girls valuable activities, and provide them all of the information they need on different career pathways in the areas of STEM.” Through the local community’s contributions, Electric Girls is able to show girls all the possibilities that lie before them.
The communities contributions help to ensure that cost isn’t a barrier for anyone looking to utlize the resources that are provided. But, what’s more important than monetary donations are donations of one’s time. When someone volunteers for them, the involvement from the community means as much to the girls as it does to the organization. It gives them someone to look up to and use as a sort of role model for their own lives.
Volunteers are able to listen and take the vision that these young girls have for their lives and push them to actually pursue it by showing them that it is possible and all they need to do is take that first step and continue to work towards their goal. If you are busy though and can’t volunteer your time, you can still support Electric Girls by simply sharing their information online via social media or even just through conversations with friends and family.
Everyone deserves a chance to pursue their dream careers. As difficult and challenging a career in STEM is, everyone still deserves to feel encouraged and equipped to pursue it if they feel the call to. According to Torregano, “Research tells us that girls begin to develop the belief that they aren’t good at science or math, or that STEM isn’t for them, as early as elementary school.” That needs to change, and Electric Girls is spearheading this change by ensuring all girls have access to developing STEM skills so that they can feel empowered in this area.
If you’re interested in making a difference, visit their website electricgirls.org. If you know someone whould be interested in participating in some of the programs that Electric Girls offers, contact their director of prgrams Bryoni at email@example.com.