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Young CNY Women Spending the Week Immersed in STEM Camp at Le Moyne College

Bridget McAllister

Growing the technology sector in Central New York could be dependent on getting more young women interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The AT&T and CNY STEM Hub Camp for Young Women at LeMoyne College kicked off this week.  The week-long summer program immerses 30 local high school girls in the STEM fields, with a focus this year on computer coding and the continued development of drones.  Le Moyne College President Linda LeMura shared one example of a local science role model for campers.

"In 2018, a Le Moyne alumna will go to space, and she will live on the space station for 6 months.  She is the first African American astronaut to live on the space station, she studied right here at Le Moyne College, and she's from Syracuse, New York.  Does that inspire you?" LeMura asked.

"Yeaahhh!" the students responded.

Statistics show that less than 30 percent of major tech firm employees are female, and only 18 percent of women in bachelors’ programs pursue computer science.  But it’s estimated that by 2020 over 2.4 million STEM jobs in the U.S. will be unfulfilled.  Program coordinators and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul find that societal perceptions often discourage girls and women from realizing their full potential in scientific fields.

Credit Bridget McAllister / WAER News
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul even paid a visit to encourage and inspire the young women. To her right is Le Moyne College President Linda LeMura, and AT&T East Region President Marissa Shorenstein.

"They have studies that say 5-year-old girls think they're as smart as boys.  By the time they get to 6 and 7, they start to think boys are smarter than they are.  There's a perception even among girls that they're not as smart, especially in science, technology, and math, and all those cool areas.  They don't think they're as smart."

AT&T provides nearly all financial support for the camp, which is free for students and includes lunches and transportation to eliminate economic barriers.  Chairwoman of CNY STEM Hub Donna DeSiato finds that maximizing availability is the key to finding the missing STEM workforce.

"The potential is one we have yet to realize, but it is growing because of these experiences.   We can close that gap by giving students both an awareness and exposure, but most importantly experiences  in which they can see this is something they can do and hopefully will do in the future."

This is the second year of the AT&T and CNY STEM Hub Camp for Young Women.  More about the program is at CNY