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Women in STEM: 10 Programs for Ambitious High School Students

In 2023, the STEM landscape still grapples with a significant gender gap, with women comprising a mere 28% of the global STEM workforce. This disparity underscores the pressing need for change.


With this blog, we will explore a diverse array of high school STEM programs specifically designed to empower young women to pursue careers in STEM. These programs not only open doors to the exciting world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics but also are either exclusive to or prioritize female students, fostering an environment where their talents and ambitions can flourish.



1. MIT WTP

The MIT Women's Technology Program (WTP) is an intensive four-week summer program designed to familiarize high school students with engineering. It’s a women-focused program aiming to empower traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM. There are usually two tracks: the WTP-EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and the WTP-ME (Mechanical Engineering). For 2023, the EECS track was on hiatus.


Graduate students in the MIT Mechanical Engineering department lead the WTP-ME courses that offer an exploration of key topics in mechanical engineering. You will get to study subjects like fluid mechanics, materials science, statics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, and engineering design. The curriculum blends practical experimentation with analytical problem-solving and employs computer codes for numerical modeling and computer-aided design to enhance learning.


One of the major things you’ll take away is having a safe and collaborative community to explore your interest in engineering and computer science - especially if you’re considering these subjects as college majors!


Cost: Free

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Commuter Only)

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): January 15, 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023): June 24, 2023 - July 21, 2023

Selectivity: Highly selective (3-5% acceptance rate)

Eligibility: Women in 11th grade with a strong interest in math and science who have little to no prior experience in engineering are welcome to apply



2. Conservation Science Intensive

The Conservation Science Intensive offers a unique residential program for teenagers, providing hands-on scientific experience, exploring different conservation career paths, and fostering mentorship across various professions. The program is dedicated to creating safe, inclusive, and accessible environments for all participants. Expeditions are typically 5 days/4 nights long. You get to collaborate with experts from Audubon Canyon Ranch in conservation disciplines (primarily biology and ecology). The 2023 program included extensive time outdoors, skill development in natural history (tracking, botany, birding, map/GPS usage), conservation projects, journaling, solitary reflection, teamwork, and group discussions.


Cost: $50 fee upon acceptance, $1000 program fee (need-based scholarships are available)

Location: Varies by year (2023 was at their Martin Griffin Preserve in Stinson Beach, CA)

Application Deadline (Summer 2024): TBA January 2024

Program Dates (Summer 2024): Five days/Four nights in July (Specific dates yet to be announced)

Selectivity: Selective (cohort size is approximately 20)

Eligibility: All high school students who identify as a girl or non-binary



3. Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program

The Girls Who Code organization operates the Summer Immersion Program (SIP) with the aim of addressing gender disparities in computer science and technology professions worldwide. SIP serves as a platform for young girls to explore this field while establishing valuable industry connections.


Throughout SIP, you will participate in interactive online classes supported by prominent corporations like MetLife, Bank of America, and Game Design. In the 2023 session, students explored intermediate computer science principles, design methodology, and foundational user experience (UX) design, offering an initial look into Game Design and its components.


We’ve covered this program in detail with our review of the SIP here.


Cost: Free

Location: Virtual

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): February 17th (Early), March 29th (General)

Program Dates (Summer 2023):

Session 1: June 16th - June 30th, 2023 (U.S. Students Only)

Session 2: July 19th - July 21st, 2023 (U.S. and International Students)

Session 3: July 31st - August 11th, 2023 (U.S. and International Students)

Selectivity: Welcoming

Eligibility:

  • You must identify as a girl/non-binary

  • U.S. Citizens: High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors

  • International Students: Between 14-18 years old



4. Stanford AI4ALL

Stanford AI4ALL strives to enhance diversity within the artificial intelligence field. Over the course of a three-week online program, you will participate in informative lectures, hands-on research, and mentoring initiatives. You’ll also get the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and gain insights on groundbreaking AI applications in areas like healthcare, disaster response, and poverty alleviation.


In addition to delving deeply into some of AI's forefront concepts, participants also explore AI's potential to bring about positive societal changes. Collaborating with the Stanford AI Lab, the program provides students with hands-on engagement in research projects.


You also get the chance to work on a capstone project, present it to researchers in the field, and identify opportunities for further research. In 2022, a group of 4 students worked on developing an AI application to detect diseases from X-ray images.


Cost: Paid (amount not disclosed)

Location: Virtual

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): February 1 (Early), February 17 (Regular), March 10 (Extended)

Program Dates (Summer 2023): June 26, 2023 - July 14, 2023

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility: All rising 10th-grade students are eligible to apply



5. Cornell University’s CURIE Academy

The CURIE Academy is a week-long residential program at Cornell University for high school girls, aiming to cultivate a deep understanding of engineering as a potential college major and career path.


During this week, CURIE Scholars reside on the Cornell campus and engage with current Cornell Engineering students, faculty, and a diverse group of peers from around the United States. You get to attend daily classes and collaborate closely with faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students to execute and present a research project on the program’s final day.


CURIE Scholars must also participate in nine field sessions, each led by a Cornell Engineering faculty member, covering various major fields of engineering. These sessions provide insights into the field's essence, relevant coursework, and ongoing research, and include interactive and hands-on activities. In addition, Cornell Engineering Admissions offers a tenth session to help understand the college admissions process for students interested in pursuing higher education at Cornell.


With mentorship from faculty, Cornell students, and other experts, you must work in small groups to execute a research project. In 2023, CURIE Scholars were tasked with designing a small bioreactor with fluidic controls to maintain the survival and function of a chick heart ex-ovo.


Cost: $1,850.00 (tuition is subject to change, and need-based scholarships are available)

Location: Cornell University, NY (Residential)

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): March 1, 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023): July 16, 2023 - July 22, 2023

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility:

  • High school rising juniors and seniors

  • Identify as a woman

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA



6. NYU GSTEM Summer Research Program

Established in 2013 by the prestigious Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU, the GSTEM Summer Research Program is a six-week opportunity for high school students to work on research projects and expand their skill set. This program is committed to dismantling barriers and empowering individuals who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly girls and other marginalized groups.


During this program, you will be paired with a STEM mentor (a professor or researcher) and engage in independent projects aligned with your chosen field of interest. In addition to honing laboratory and programming skills, you also get to attend workshops that focus on scientific writing and presentation skills.


Additionally, you’ll be introduced to women in STEM who will share their research and recount their personal journeys, highlighting both the achievements and challenges of the same.


Past research titles by GSTEM students include:

  • Chemistry: Designing Fluorescent Sensors for Long-Term Imaging of Intracellular Mg2+

  • Biology: Optimizing Whole-Brain Labeling Methods for Brain-Wide Visualization of Dopaminergic Neurons

  • Physics: Effects of Demagnetization on Ferromagnetic Thin Films

  • Computer Science: Using Computer Modeling and Computation to Decrease Traffic Congestion

  • Math: Nonlinear Dynamics and Music: The Appearance of Melodies in Chaotic Systems


Cost: $5,000 (tuition) + $3,642 (housing and meals: optional for those interested in living on campus). Need-based scholarships and aid are available.

Location: Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NY

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): March 15th (Early), after which rolling admissions will be accepted until April 15th

Program Dates (Summer 2023): July 3, 2023 - August 11, 2023

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility: All high school juniors



7. UT Computer Science Summer Academies: Academy for Women

Through the Academy for Women, the UT Computer Science department is on a mission to enhance diversity within the tech sector. Throughout this program, you'll acquire valuable coding skills and gain a firsthand glimpse into college life. The curriculum covers topics such as C++ programming, project management, and teamwork dynamics, and explores the opportunities available for women in tech careers. You’ll also get to be a part of hands-on learning experiences like coding an Arduino microcontroller to create an LED display light show, discover the latest developments in tech alongside professors and industry experts, and uncover potential internship and career pathways.


Additionally, you'll learn strategies to make your UT application stand out from the experts at UT admissions, while also getting acquainted with the UT campus and connecting with current UT students.


Cost: Free (travel scholarships are available)

Location: University of Texas, Austin (Residential)

Program Dates (Summer 2023):

  • June 4, 2023 - June 10, 2023

  • June 11, 2023 - June 17, 2023

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility: 10th-12th Grade students who identify as female



8. The Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP)

Smith College was the first women’s college to establish its own engineering science program, known as the Picker Engineering Program. For ambitious high school students who possess a strong passion for science and engineering, Smith College offers the Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP).


During the two weeks of the program, small groups of up to 17 students collaborate closely with Smith faculty, supported by undergraduate interns. In both laboratory settings and fieldwork, students are encouraged to pose meaningful research questions and gain practical experience conducting experiments. The SSEP curriculum offers a diverse range of courses, including but not limited to the chemistry of herbal medicine, the design of intelligent robots, global young women's health, the discovery of novel bacteriophages, and explorations into the intersection of the body and mind.


Since its inception in 1990, this program has consistently served over 100 students each year, with nearly 1,800 students from 46 states and 53 countries having benefited from its offerings. The SSEP will equip you with a deep understanding of how scientists and engineers frame questions, operate advanced scientific instruments, and cultivate essential critical thinking and analytical skills.


Cost: (financial aid is available)

  • Application Fee: $50 (until April 15), $100 (After April 15)

  • Tuition:

  • 1 session (2 weeks): $4,630

  • Both sessions (4 weeks): $7,885

  • Deposit:

  • 1 session (2 weeks): $925

  • Both sessions (4 weeks): $1,575

Location: Smith College, MA

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): May 15, 2023

Program Dates (Summer 2023):

  • Session 1: July 9, 2023 - July 22, 2023

  • Session 2: July 23, 2023 - August 5, 2023

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility: All high school students who identify as female are eligible to apply



9. Black Girls Code


Black Girls CODE, founded by Kimberly Bryant in 2011, is dedicated to bridging the diversity gap in the tech industry, particularly among women of color. Inspired by her own daughter, Kai, who was a middle school student at the time, Kimberly envisioned a brighter future for young women of color in technology. To accomplish this, the organization offers a wide range of programs designed to equip girls with essential skills in computer programming and technology. The program areas cover various domains, including web design, game design, mobile and app design, and robotics, providing girls with diverse avenues for growth in STEM.


The program types are equally diverse, catering to different learning preferences and age groups. Black Girls CODE offers workshops, summer camps, enrichment activities, code clubs, and hackathons to engage girls in interactive and educational experiences. These programs are designed not only to impart technical skills but also to foster creativity and confidence in participants.


Noteworthy past programs include:

  • Coding Summer Camps and Bootcamps

  • AI Dance Enhance: Training an AI to recognize dance moves and create expressive visuals using P5.js)

  • Make an Arcade Game (game design using Python)

  • App Design Fundamentals by Nike

  • BGC Memphis Chapter x LeMoyne-Owen College’s Augmented Reality Workshop (focusing on AR and cybersecurity)

  • Earth Day - Make Water Event (building a water purification system)

  • Black Girls CODE x NASA’s Exploring Mars with Google Pro


Cost:

  • Virtual Programs: Free

  • In-Person Programs: $100 enrollment fee

Location: Varies (some camps are virtual, and some are in-person based on BGC Chapters across the country)

Application Deadline (Summer 2023): Varies based on program

Program Dates (Summer 2023): Varies based on the program. Check here for the full list of upcoming programs

Selectivity: Welcoming

Eligibility: Girls between the ages of 12-17 belonging to the African American community



10. STREAMS - Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics with SCUBA

Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGD) is a non-profit organization committed to making a positive social impact through innovative educational programs. Among their initiatives is the STREAMS program, which integrates Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics with SCUBA diving, offering middle and high school girls unique opportunities. STREAMS operates year-round, and graduates continue as BGD Scholar Alumnae with the opportunity to assume leadership roles within the program to inspire future generations.


If selected, you will have the chance to ‘dive into’ a wide array of activities, including underwater photography, videography, 3D design, and autonomous drone operations. You also receive SCUBA training and learn about scientific diving principles while constructing underwater remote-operated vehicles for ecosystem study. The STREAMS program not only introduces participants to various marine science career pathways but also equips them with knowledge about climate and ocean health impacts and essential SCUBA skills.


You must also complete a capstone expedition, allowing you to apply your knowledge and skills to socially conscious SCUBA practices and environmental stewardship projects.


Cost: Free (the program covers STEM classes, training diving costs, and SCUBA gear) however, any costs associated with PADI need to be

Locations: Mercer County Area (NJ), Atlanta (GA), Baltimore (MD), University of Delaware (DE)

Application Deadline: N/A

Program Dates: Year-Round

Selectivity: Selective

Eligibility: Open to all high school girls



If you’re a woman interested in pursuing a career in STEM, you can also check out other communities and programs for women in STEM, like STEM for Her, the National Girls Collaborative Project, SheTech, STEM Like a Girl, and the Boston Area GIRLS STEM Collaborative.



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to dive deep into research in STEM subjects, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


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