From 2000 to 2008, the number of young women interested in majoring in computer science dropped 79%.
That wasn’t ok with Heidi Olinger, who founded PrettyBrainy.com, an organization that engages girls in a STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art / Design, and Math) by appealing to their interests in making, philanthropy, and design.
“We know that if the nationwide push for STEM education is to succeed, the learning girls receive must respect who they are and how they see the world,” notes Olinger, who says she respects how girls approach science and math and works to ensure they are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century — no matter their goals.
Olinger notes that given 21st century requirements on the job and in the classroom, girls who study math through at least basic university coursework open up their lives to 75 percent more career options, it is estimated, than those who complete only minimum course requirements.
“Our purpose is to inspire girls academically and professionally so they build self-confidence in their STEAM skills in elementary school, deepen their interest in middle school, and engage STEAM throughout high school and into college,” she adds. “We exist because the world needs the brain power of not just half, but 100% of our future thinkers, problem-solvers, decision-makers, and innovators.”
- Ciera, an 8th grader, shares: “I’ve had some amazing experiences through Pretty Brainy, and [their] workshop has opened so many doors for me and the other girls. It really showed me how many careers use STEAM.”
- Mom Lori Discoe notes: “Pretty Brainy has brought out a new confidence in our daughter that we had not seen before. Previously, she has participated at length in piano, dance, Odyssey of the Mind and basketball, but this is first activity where she really felt complete ownership of the results. It was also the first one she was truly sad to see end. She asked me to sign up again before it was over! Since participating in the research and design aspects, she has heightened awareness of products around her and their functionality, or lack of purposeful design. She is looking forward to the next program. Thank you Pretty Brainy!”
- Educator Susanne Martino, a parent and Outstanding Secondary Math Educator with the Colorado Council of Teachers of Math, Preston Middle School explains: “The experience of working with Pretty Brainy was extremely positive! Students selected positive words and images for the attitude that they wanted to portray on their t-shirts. It was very clear that students identified themselves as being smart and confident . . . and wanted others to know it too!”
Are you Pretty Brainy? Here’s the mission:
- Keep girls as strong and confident in their STEAM abilities in middle and high school as they are in elementary school.
- Stamp out, for all time, disproven notions that girls “can’t do math” and aren’t interested in the “hard” sciences.
- Equip girls with the STEAM learning each one needs to believe in the beauty of her dreams and pursue her greatest ambitions.
Click here to learn more about the STEAM team: prettybrainy.com.