A talented, inspiring and enthusiastic community of female professionals and students came together in March for St. Margaret’s sixth annual Girls in STEAM Symposium. Sponsored and hosted by St. Margaret’s, Girls in STEAM exposes students, who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields, to the endless possibilities of STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and math—while celebrating the accomplishments, voices, experiences and power of girls and women.
Each year, the symposium provides rich and unique opportunities for girls and young women to connect with peers and role models in STEAM fields of interest to them, learn about myriad academic coursework and professional paths, and experience fun, hands-on STEAM activities working together.
“We change the program a little each year to introduce new and emerging content to the community and to keep our girls engaged and coming back throughout their school years. We always focus on four essential programmatic elements for the attendees: learn, inspire, do and connect, in providing a vibrant window into the limitless possibilities of STEAM,” said Girls in STEAM chair Angela Mackenzie, who is also St. Margaret’s director of educational technology and library and computer science chair.
Keynote speaker Annette Walker, the visionary health care leader of City of Hope, Orange County, who was named one of the 25 most influential women leaders, said she feels a responsibility to support younger women and girls in business, and offered sage advice to the attendees as they move into adulthood, build their professional careers and their lives: turn challenges into opportunities, abandon the false notion of perfection, be (and practice being) brave with your voice and choices, and hold onto the anchors that support you in your life.
Ms. Walker said that having a STEAM education opened a world of doors for her career. “When you have a STEM education, there’s a million things you can do.” She said it was important for her to be a part of Girls in STEAM 2022 because she believes this is the time for young girls and women to influence the future of the world. “If you can help one person see their way a little more clearly, if you can be encouraging, inspirational, it’s worth the time,” she said.
Students participated in a host of hands-on breakout workshops of their choosing in chemistry chemical magic, coding a self portrait, animation with Procreate, art and music making in iMovie and Garage Band, coding breakout escape room, art with flowers by The Ecology Center horticulturists, and designing a robot with Child Creativity Lab. They also sat down with a group of distinguished women in STEAM fields for six speed networking sessions, heard from a panel of experts participating from Dubai, Columbia, Africa and across the U.S., about the Future of STEAM Through Web3, and learned about the scientific research of three top 2022 UCI Grad Slam finalists, all female graduate researchers at UCI.
Upper School girls from St. Margaret’s STEAM club were also instrumental in developing the program along with their teachers, providing input on areas of interest, the panel discussions and behind the scenes event planning and organization. “Our US STEAM club team did an amazing job stepping into a leadership role. They were an integral part of the planning process and had a hand in almost every detail,” said Mrs. Mackenzie.
“It was absolutely wonderful to be together in person again, and to be among such a vibrant group of females brimming with talent and skill and enthusiastic about STEAM! The energy, excitement and sincere sisterhood and mentorship could be felt throughout the day. We had so many students from St. Margaret’s and across Southern California schools take part and really dig into the activities and the program and a team of women who came together to make this day happen to serve the next generation,” said Mrs. Mackenzie.
“From that standpoint alone, the day was a tremendous success. I am moved and incredibly gratefully to each participant, young and adult. Together, we are building a community that will support, celebrate and champion each other, and will make us all, STEAM industries and the world infinitely better!”
To read more about the event, the bios of all the extraordinary women in STEAM who participated, and view the general session recordings, click here
for the full event program.
The Girls in STEAM Symposium was created by STEAM educators at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School to encourage girls into STEAM courses and academic paths because females in particular are underrepresented in advanced STEAM courses in high school and higher education and in professional fields of industry. Yet, research shows that more diverse workforces, like having a gender balance results in higher efficiency and more creative outcomes—essentially STEAM and the world need the perspective, talents, ideas and ingenuity of girls and women. Girls in STEAM is a free event open to all girls and nonbinary students in grades 4–12, those who are already advanced STEAM scholars and those who just want to explore and learn more about science, technology, engineering, arts and math.