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Women in STEM Day

NASHUA – Hoping to grow interest in science, technology, engineering and math, Nashua School District officials recruited roughly 100 girls from the city’s middle and high schools for the annual Women in STEM Day on Tuesday.

Despite these career fields tending to be dominated by men, young girls interested in learning more about the field or seeking to pursue careers and job opportunities available to them had the chance to immerse themselves in technology on Tuesday.

“I think it is extremely important to spread the word regarding all of the opportunities both genders have in these fields,” Nashua Technology Center South Director Mike McQuilkin said. “However, we know that only 28% of women are choosing STEM areas as a career. We think it is important to make females aware that there are several pathways they can take for success.”

Participating girls were selected and nominated by their math and science teachers, as well as their guidance counselors who sought out these young women who seem to have strong interest in the field of science and technology, and who have also demonstrated competency in said areas. Both eighth and ninth-grade girls were selected from Pennichuck Middle School, Fairgrounds Middle School and Elm Street Middle School, as well as both Nashua High School North and South. Each year, the event switches from being hosted at North and South. This year, South had the honor of hosting.

Students arrived at the school early, and were escorted down to the auditorium by South CTE (career and technical education) student ambassadors, who are students who stand out in their CTE field and help with special events such as Tuesday’s. McQuilkin gave a brief introduction and discussed CTE, while one of the women volunteers, Julia McIntosh, also delivered some brief remarks. From there, they walked to the medium gym where six tables were waiting. Each volunteer had a table and gave about a 15-minute presentation to a small group of students, as each group rotated for a turn at the tables.

“They were exposed to a number of successful women who work in the field of technology,” McQuilkin said. “It is so great that they get to hear first hand of the experiences these women have had on their path to success.”

While participating in the event, students gained information about the CTE programs at both high schools, and people were on-hand to review these programs with the students. Additionally, current CTE students were available to answer questions and discuss the programs with the girls.

McQuilkin said the message to these girls is one of encouragement to keep talking to their teachers and guidance counselors about pursuing these options in high school. Beginning in grade 10, students can take CTE classes, and many of these programs have components of STEM as well.

“This was such a great event,” McQuilkin said.

He said it was great to hear how passionate the women were about their fields, great to see how engaged and excited the students were during the event and also great to be able to spread the word about CTE to the younger students in the community.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.