Conference aims to introduce girls to math and science careers
By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Northborough – On Saturday, March 15, middle school-aged girls are invited to attend the 8th Women in Science & Math Conference hosted by the Northboro Junior Woman’s Club (NJWC).
The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Algonquin Regional High School, 79 Bartlett Street, Northborough. It is free and open to all. The event encourages middle school-aged girls to explore careers in the fields of science and math, and builds connections with local women who have expertise and professional degrees in these fields.
“By exposing the girls at this age they can see the possibilities and understand the importance of science and math as they plan for their futures,” explained Sarah Cutrona, M.D., M.P.H., a NJWC member and conference volunteer. “They can also identify these careers with women they have met and who come from their local communities.”
After an opening presentation, the girls will be able to attend four 40-minute interactive hands-on career workshops. Presenters will represent a variety of fields, including forensic chemistry, robotics, architecture, DNA extraction, engineering, and veterinary medicine. Presenters will explain what they do in their occupation, share different tips on courses of study and ways to train for their profession, and provide hands-on exploration/activities. A luncheon will follow.
Cutrona, an assistant professor of medicine at UMass Medical School, and the mother of two young girls, said the conference is a chance for girls to be introduced to new career fields.
“Even a brief exposure to an idea or concept can be enough to spark interest and convince a girl to try a class or afterschool activity which she might not previously have considered, and that can open future doors,” she said.
According to Cutrona, women from a range of professional backgrounds in the local area donate their time and expertise at the conference, which draws 100 to 120 girls each year.
“It is important for the girls to see successful female role models and to understand they, too, can be successful in a career that revolves around a strong emphasis on science and or math,” she said. “The middle school years are tough and we lose girls as they progress through their schooling, particularly if girls do not feel confident in their mathematics skills.”
She added that there are still many fields in medicine where her friends find themselves the only woman or one of only a handful of women in their program or in their division.
“We still have a long way to go but there are a lot of organizations and science teachers across the country working on this challenge!” Cutrona noted.
Registration forms are available at http://www.northborojuniors.org/Women_In_Science.html and need to be postmarked or emailed by Feb. 26. Enrollment is limited to the first 120 girls. The Northboro Junior Woman’s Club is a nonprofit, volunteer organization.
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