Inspiring the next generation of women in STEM: GiSTEM

April Ondis

Labster’s mission is to inspire the next generation of scientists to change the world – and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with important others in that effort. We’d like to introduce you to GiSTEM, a non-profit that aims to “inspire the next generation of women in STEM”. 

GiSTEM is based in Richmond, Virginia, USA and was founded by a STEM professional who is a product of Richmond’s public school system. At college, LaToya Mayfield found herself working “three times as hard” as classmates who graduated from better-resourced local schools.

Mayfield, now President of GiSTEM, and the GiSTEM Board members work throughout the year to make science education more equitable and accessible for girls in grades 7-12. There is one week, however, that is particularly special.

“Early in my STEM career, I found myself working harder to be successful in the sciences because I wasn't equipped with the foundational knowledge and network to be successful,” said Mayfield. “For these reasons, I founded GiSTEM which provides hands-on, technical experiences for young women to jumpstart their success.”


July 6 – July 10, 2021 is GiSTEM Week

The 2021 year represents the first annual GiSTEM week of programming dedicated to instilling confidence, influencing critical thinking, and inspiring the next generation of women in STEM. Girls in middle school and high school had to apply for the chance to participate in this intensive academic, pre-professional, and social experience.

During GiSTEM Week, the girls will acquire and practice hands-on skills, using tools including Labster’s The Scientific Method virtual science lab simulation, that give them the kind of foundational, real-world technical and soft skills they will need to succeed in school and in their future careers.

Volunteer science leaders from the community will help the girls focus one day on each of the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. At the end of the week, GiSTEM will host a virtual poster presentation for the girls’ team projects.

A Team Approach to Solving Problems at GiSTEM Week

This year’s participants will be split into two teams that are each charged with solving a unique problem related to making Mars a safe human habitat. One team will focus on how to generate power on Mars, while the other team focuses on how to create breathable air.    

“We want them to understand the importance of teamwork and how each team role contributes to finding innovative solutions to complex problems,” said Shatara Weaver, Vice President of GiSTEM.


Building a STEM Network at GiSTEM Week

A key component of the program is that learners will meet successful women in each field. The girls will be able to create personal connections with these women in STEM during the week, and some relationships may develop into mentorships that help the girls navigate future opportunities in education and career.

“We want to provide a space for middle and high school young women to engage with STEM professionals that look like them and give them an opportunity to begin building their STEM network,” said Weaver.

Please consider supporting GiSTEM’s mission:

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