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Encouraging young women to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math was the focus of a town hall meeting held Feb. 22 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia.

LACOE was proud to join with the Arboretum, California Department of Education and state Commission on the Status of Women and Girls to co-sponsor the Engaging Girls in STEM event.

More than 100 girls in grades 4 through 12 were in attendance for a showcase of the leadership and contributions of women in STEM. Some 20 exhibitors, such as the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Columbia Memorial Space Center, provided hands-on activities for exploring education and career options.

Through the Million Women Mentors program, participants were able to engage with female role models from a wide array of STEM fields — from launching satellites to designing prescription medicines — to learn how they persevered and prepared for their careers.

“This event was a catalyst for addressing and improving the image of girls and women in STEM,” said Anthony Quan, STEM consultant in LACOE Curriculum and Instructional Services. “All of the women in industry expressed enthusiasm about continuing to serve as role models and mentors for girls and young women in years to come.”

According to data published by the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, fewer than 25 percent of workers in scientific fields are women, even though they comprise about half the workforce.

"I want to thank you for giving my daughter this opportunity,” said one parent about the Feb. 22 event. “It meant so much to her to engage with professionals and have a voice."

Similar events will be held April 20 in Riverside and April 27 in Stockton. Email for more information.

Visit the CDE web page with resources to support girls in STEM fields here.

Follow Anthony Quan on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo: The Feb. 22 Engaging Girls in STEM event provided the opportunity for more than 100 young women to engage with female role models in a wide array of fields.

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