Saturday GIRLs is a partnership with Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services and its Computer Clubhouse Network to expose girls in grades 6-12 to innovative STEM and educational opportunities, helping girls to become more confident learners. Monthly workshops include academic success strategies, preparation for college and careers, leadership development, positive self-esteem, entrepreneurship, and STEM education.
STEAM Spring Break Camp
The first middle school STEAM Spring Break camp in 2017 was in partnership with Mason Game and Technology Academy and sponsored by STEM for Her. It combined digital art, programming, video game design, web page development, and entrepreneurship. By the end of the week, the girls created a video game and webpage and pitched their companies to a panel of guest judges.
F.O.C.U.S. STEM Summer Camp
Females of Color Underrepresented in STEM, or F.O.C.U.S., is a partnership between the George Mason University College of Science STEM Accelerator Program and Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, Inc. created to expose and prepare girls of color for STEM careers. The inaugural week-long summer camp occurred on July 21-25, 2014 on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where 18 middle school girls gained hands-on experience in biology, chemistry, bioengineering, engineering, computer science, forensic science, astronomy, cyber security, meteorology, and math. Girls also learned about various careers from minority women working in STEM careers. In 2015, F.O.C.U.S. received a $20,000 grant from the Business Women’s Giving Circle at the Northern Virginia Community Foundation and 75 girls attended the camp. The 2016 camp sponsor was Battelle and 100 girls attended.
Annual Career Conference
Our annual career conference encourages girls, especially those from underrepresented groups, to study STEM and pursue 21st century careers. Girls attend workshops designed to prepare them to successfully obtain their dream jobs. Workshops have included law which provided an introduction to the legal profession; engineering which showed girls how they can be rocket scientists and what opportunities are available for working in space; cyber security/IT which showed girls how to use industry tools that hackers and cyber security professionals use to break into and test computers; entrepreneurship where girls participated on a start-up team and learned the fundamentals of a business plan; forensic science in which the girls learned about careers in forensic science, and participated in hands-on experiments that real forensic scientists do on a day-to-day basis in laboratories and at crime scenes; and coding where the girls used programming to learn how creativity and problem solving come together to make something all their own. The conference also includes the interactive exhibit mall, where girls meet women from a variety of careers and view demonstrations. Conference sponsors have included the U.S. Coast Guard (2011), George Mason University Women and Gender Studies Center (2013), Hewlett Packard (2014), and BRG Communications (2017).
Pathways to Careers Program
This career exploration program includes Saturday workshops with college student mentors and women from diverse career fields. Girls will develop professionally through networking, experiencing mentorship, and job shadowing. The inaugural 2016-17 program provided girls an opportunity to participate in Mitre Corporation’s Young Women in Engineering Day to learn about careers in engineering and to shadow professionals at Fairfax City Government. At the networking luncheon, girls had an opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, business owners, and corporate executives as well as the grant’s co-chair from the Giving Circle of Hope (program funder for 2016) who said, “What GIRL does is vital to girls’ social development, not just for jobs, but also for networking and advocating for themselves in college.”
Worksite Field Trips
GIRL arranges visits to local companies where students learn about career opportunities, meet women in the company, and participate in activities. Past field trips have included visits to the White House, WJLA news station, ExxonMobil, McKissack & Mckissack, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. On the 2016 field trip to HP Enterprise, the girls attended workshops to learn about STEM careers through hands-on physics and mathematics related activities and an interactive panel discussion with interns.