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Event encourages girls to pursue careers in science

April 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A survey of children and teenagers from the American Society for Quality found that 24 percent of boys want to be engineers, compared to 5 percent of girls.

"In the 1980s, there were 36 percent more women in STEM careers and that's fallen down to 19 percent," said Dr. Cheryl Saban with the Saban Research Institute at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

An event held Wednesday at Children's Hospital aimed to level the field. Young female students were invited to meet women leaders in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

"To learn more about self-esteem, learn more about sciences and how they can be prepare and be successful," said Dr. Brent Polk, also of Children's Hospital.

The government is expecting a 17 percent growth in science, technology, engineering and math fields. While women have the drive and capacity to fulfill these jobs, many are held back by social and cultural expectations.

"People tend to go in areas where they get more support and it's more friendly," Saban said.

Experts say that nationwide, new doctors training to be pediatricians are 75 percent women.

After losing her grandmother to lung cancer, 18-year-old Emma Balouzian wants to become an oncologist, though she knows many obstacles lay ahead of her.

"The sciences can be so work-intensive and need a lot of attention, but it was really good to hear from them that you can have both," Balouzian said.

Experts said girls who want to pursue careers in STEM should seek out mentors and role models.

"It isn't easy to be in these fields, but what is easy?" Saban said. "Anything that's really good and worth doing requires effort and work."


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