STEM is a male-dominated field, but that’s started to change over the years. Gateway to Science provides opportunities for students interested in STEM, but this program has a new target audience.

“Where now you have women out in the field that are educated and are able to bring the experience back. The dynamic is shifting but we have a little ways to go,” says Becky Barnes, a Paleontologist

The Stepping into STEM program is designed specifically for 8th-grade girls. The goal is to offer non-traditional career opportunities.

“I think a lot of male domination in the STEM field just leads from historical stereotypes where women are at home, taking care of them they’re cooking food, and taking care of households,” says Barnes.

Becky Barnes says it’s important for girls to have female role models in the STEM field to look up to.

“It’s really nice to be able to see other people in that field other than your standard stereotype. When I started with Paleontology when I was little, it was all men on TV, all men writing the books, and the very first time I saw a female paleontologist on TV, it was a fictional character!” says Barnes.

The girls rotated through six stations in six types of STEM careers including Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, paleontology, research biology, environmental science, and electrical engineering. All six stations were presented by women.

“Having women in STEM and having those women willing to speak to other people is important so other people can see themselves in positions they might not have thought was possible,” says Barnes.

Barnes said the issue isn’t getting women interested in STEM, it’s getting them to stay.

“Where you get into the field and there’s a lot of harassment, a lot of pay inequalities, a lot of things we’ll have to overcome,” says Barnes.

This is the first program of its kind in Bismarck, but Gateway to Science is looking forward to making this an ongoing opportunity.

“I mostly grew up with my mom and she always told me I can do whatever I want to do none, especially not a man, can tell me what I can and cannot do,” says Jenelle Fears, 8th Grader

For more info on Gateway to Science, click here.

For info on Minot STEM/STEAM program, click here.