By Airman 1st Class Brooke Wise | Peterson-Schriever Garrison
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Women from across the U.S. Space Force and U.S Air Force volunteered to speak in a virtual panel, educating Girl Scouts on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Jan. 12 and 19, 2021.
The panel, hosted by Girl Scouts of Colorado, put more than a dozen space and cyber professionals in touch with nearly 300 scouts and gave them the opportunity to share their experience with STEM careers within the Air and Space Force. Topics included satellite operations, engineering, life as an astronaut and the many other careers the USSF has to offer. The panel took place on two separate days; the first for kindergarten through 5th grade, and the second for 6th through 12th grade.
“I heard a story about the history-making, all-female space operations crew on [national public radio],” said Leanna Clark, chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Colorado. “I was awed by the crew’s accomplishments in a traditionally male-dominated field. I googled the crew to find out more and knew immediately that we had to get our girls connected with this incredible group of women.”
The mission of the Girl Scouting is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, and to create unique leadership paths through girl-led traditions. The STEM panel was a perfect opportunity for Girl Scouts of Colorado to expose their young members to women living out those exact values every day.
Many of the mothers of these young women explained how motivational these panels were for their girls, and how grateful they were to the women who took the time to speak.
“Any event that inspires those that will be the future of our nation holds an incredible amount of importance to me,” said panel volunteer 1st Lt. Kelley McCaa, 2nd Space Operations Squadron Satellite vehicle operator. “I’ve realized that growing up if I had the opportunity to see and talk to women in a STEM career, I would have been more encouraged to seek out a profession in STEM sooner than I had.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, young adults with at least a bachelor’s degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics tend to have more positive economic outcomes, such as higher median earnings, than those with degrees in non-STEM fields. However, the percentage of women represented in STEM careers continues to stay near only 40%.
The women of the USSF and USAF who participated in this panel hope to inspire curiosity in these young ladies and help them understand their full potential, to hopefully see a rise in female representation in what is currently a male-dominated field.
“Whether or not a career or interest in STEM is pursued, I would love for this panel to show that there are no limits to what these young women can do,” said McCaa. “If you had told 15-year-old me that I would be in the Space Force, operating our nation’s satellites, I would have laughed; now I find myself making history.”