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Reminding Your Students to Fly

January 11, 2024

The beginnings of a career in STEM happen early in a child’s life.

Sydney Hamilton, Imagination Station’s 2024 Girl Power! Speaker, remembers it well. As a kid, she wanted to fly. Stretching her arms out, Hamilton would tie a blanket around her neck and prepare to take off. We all know – humans can’t fly. But Hamilton’s parents never uttered the words “You can’t fly” to her.

It may seem small, but that attitude is crucial in encouraging young girls to continue learning – especially in STEM fields.

Men continue to outnumber women in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – fields, even though, throughout grade school, boys and girls take the same course levels in math and science. Not only that, girls and boys graduate from high school equally prepared to pursue STEM fields – but most women don’t choose to major in STEM.

The reasons are diverse. There is a lack of female role models in STEM fields, there is a gender stereotype that associates STEM with men and unconscious biases can be present when hiring in the field.

Finding solutions to these problems is complex. But there is something that helps increase girls' interest and confidence in STEM: having teachers, parents and guardians encourage them.

Research shows that negative stereotypes about girls’ math abilities lower girls’ performance on math tests. However, when teachers and educational staff made it a point to tell students that girls and boys are equally capable in math, there was no longer a difference in test performance.

Hamilton knows the importance of having educators encourage girls in STEM firsthand. As a young girl, Hamilton put together weekly science kits and saw herself becoming an engineer before one teacher asked, “Well don’t you think that’s going to be a little tough for someone like you?”

But another encouraged Hamilton.

Today, Hamilton is the Structure Stress Manager for The Boeing Company. In this role, Hamilton puts together technology for aviation and helps see the ideas from concept to fruition.

Hamilton flies, every day. Maybe not in the way she thought she would as a kid – but she does. Part of the reason she gets to fly every day is because she had a support system of parents and teachers who reminded her that she always could.

Imagination Station strives to do this every day for the visitors who walk through out building – but especially for young girls. On March 2, Hamilton will share her story and inspire a generation of young girls to continue in STEAM at Girl Power!

Interested in hearing more from Hamilton? Sign up for Girl Power! here.