Science CAN Be a Girl Thing: 2 STEM Competitions for Young Women

Before I even get started, have you seen this video?  It's old news now, but this stinking pile of awful was released a few years ago by the European Commission.  The goal was to draw more women into science careers.  Apparently, my gender's interest in STEM fields boils down to high heels and using chemistry to... make lipstick, maybe?  I don't even know.

From the moment I saw this atrocity, I was on a quest to find positive, girl-focused STEM organizations.  I discovered SciGirls at ASTC 2012.  Not impressed.  SciGirls presented a classic who-done-it crime lab.  Instead of blood and fingerprints, however, participants examined glitter.  Honestly, it wasn't the hyper-femme sparkles that irked me; it was how EASY the experiment was.  The mystery was solved in 30 seconds.  No real science was involved, only color identification.  I felt condescended upon.

Finally, it's October 2013, and two promising contests have caught my attention.  Both cater to high school girls and capture science in a realistic way.  Read on, STEM teens:


1. NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing - The National Center for Women and Information Technology has one goal: "To get more girls in technology-related careers."  Their annual Award for Aspirations in Computing recognizes high school girls with a passion for technology.  Entrants who don't win the award still make friends, network, and grow.

Ideal candidates are well-rounded.  Says the official site, "award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education."   Applicants can win $500 cash, a laptop, and an expenses-paid trip.  The process creates an extraordinary talent pool.  Together, these young women promote female visibility, confidence, and gender equality in STEM fields.

Illinois applications are being accepted HERE.  You can also hear from previous winners about what makes a great entry HERE.  Applications are due October 31st.

NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing logo

This award is for well-rounded, aspiring young women.


2. Thor: The Dark World Ultimate Mentor Adventure - Actress Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, love interest and FRIKKIN' ASTROPHYSICIST in Marvel's Thor films.  With Thor: The Dark World premiering November 8th, Marvel and Ms. Portman are offering STEM-loving teens the thrill of a lifetime.

High school girls ages 14+ can apply for The Ultimate Mentor Adventure by interviewing local women with science careers.  The interviews should capture how the subject got her job, and how future generations may do the same.  Marvel encourages contestants to "be bold," as the reward is sweet.  Finalists will be taken to California to meet successful women of science at Dolby Laboratories, Disneyland, and more, all while filming a documentary.  Of course, a Thor: The Dark World premiere will cap the trip.

The official site is an incredible help.  There's a list of STEM careers, and even a mentor map to get applicants started.  There are more than 20 mentors in Illinois already listed!  Applications are due October 20th.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in Marvel's Thor

The Jane Foster poster from the original Thor film stressed her STEM career.


I am seriously jealous of high school girls right now.  These opportunities both sound incredible- definitely the type of encouragement I was seeking for young women. I'd be applying, myself, had I not left that life phase loooong ago.  ;P

Please pass these on to any science and technology-loving girls you know.  Don't forget to say Geek Girl Chicago sent you, and good luck!


If you know of more STEM organizations for females, post about them below.  I just might share them on my Facebook or Twitter!

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