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Gold Award Girl Scout: Catherine Pederson, Colorado Springs, Women in STEM Careers “Breaking d

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I created a website  with multiple STEM resources and biographies of model female scientists with the goal of addressing the local and national issue of a gender gap in STEM. I would like to exhibit to aspiring young female scientists that their desire for science can be filled in a myriad of ways, all of which can greatly impact the community and our world. In society, young girls are often not given enough role models and mentors whom they can look up to and use for guidance in STEM fields. If we only think of a scientist as someone who looks like Einstein, then that is limiting to anyone else interested in science.

My website (https://womeninstemcareers.wixsite.com/femalestemcareers) includes scientists and activities within different areas of study in STEM, such as computer science, physics, and environmental science. I also found it to be significant to add different sections that had activities such as chemistry experiments, books, and other projects that young girls could access from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. I added categories of broad interests such as art, sports, and the outdoors, and I provided many examples of diverse women scientists whose careers fulfill their passions in those areas. Highlighting these women signifies to young girls that if they have a passion for art or sports, they can pursue a STEM career to follow their passions.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

To measure the impact of my Gold Award, I set goals for the number of interactions on the STEM career website, as well as the interaction of an Instagram page I created. In addition to positive feedback from both platforms, meeting these quantitative goals allowed me to numerically measure the impact on my target audience.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

My project is being sustained by a local fifth grade science teacher who will introduce her students to the website every year in conjunction with their unit about female scientist Rachel Carson. The STEM Career Website is on a free website platform, and the Instagram page is also free, so no monetary upkeep is needed for the project. The link to this website resource can be accessed by many people for the foreseeable future through the Instagram page, @womeninstemcareers.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

This issue of a gender gap in STEM is prevalent all over the world in various degrees, and there are many organizations that work to create community and mentorship in STEM fields. I reached out to the National Girls Collaborative Project and Scientista with the goal of further continuing the discussion of exposing young girls to female scientists and scientific resources.

What did you learn about yourself?

This project has been a truly remarkable and eye-opening journey. Throughout this project, I gained leadership skills, communication skills, and strengthened my time management skills. More memorably, I had the opportunity to connect with strong females in STEM across our community and learn about their experiences. I also gained knowledge about women in STEM careers all over the globe. Learning about the importance of mentorship in engaging more girls in STEM was extraordinary, so I made sure to base a large part of my project around showing young girls a variety of diverse women scientists following their passions in STEM, and to emphasize that this diversity is key to success. I will cherish the experiences from my Gold Award for the rest of my life.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

Through earning my Gold Award, I have learned more about the implications of STEM in the community and in the real world through discussions with my project advisor and outside resources. I learned about organizations that create communities of women in STEM, such as 500 Women Scientists and Scientista. This exposure further encourages me to pursue a STEM career myself and to seek out communities of women who have similar passions in the future. I hope to study biochemistry or biomedical science in college and to use my leadership and experiences in STEM to someday mentor young girls pursuing STEM.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I feel as though the Gold Award was a perfect capstone to my time in Girl Scouts because it allowed me to accumulate the leadership and skills I have gained to produce a project that speaks to my experiences for years to come. I have witnessed peers in their Girl Scout pursuits creating incredible projects that continually impact the community, and this inspired me to create a useful and accessible resource that can be enjoyed by many people, especially my target audience.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

This project helped me become a G.I.R.L. by encouraging me to be an innovator. In this project, I built a website, which is something that I have never done, so this required working toward technological skill building and innovation. Additionally, I had to innovate a way to connect in my community during the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that my resources would always be available to students, online or in-person. I also feel that I grew as a go-getter, risk-taker, and leader, but I believe that my growth in innovation was the most significant. I am sincerely grateful for the support I received on creating this platform to inspire other girls to reach toward their goals and passions in STEM, and I look forward to utilizing the skills I learned in this project in the future. It’s a great day to be a G.I.R.L.!

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org.

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