What We Do and Why
Through its comprehensive programming, Girlstart provides a year-round, intensive suite of STEM education programs for K-12 girls. Girlstart’s core programs foster STEM skills development, an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems, as well as an interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers:
Girlstart After School
Girlstart Summer Camp
Girls in STEM Conference
Community STEM Programming
Through these four programs, Girlstart reached nearly 14,500 girls, teachers, and parents in 2011. Recent program accomplishments include:
• A recent study by SEDL found that Girlstart’s After School program is the most
robust STEM program for girls in the country. You can download the study here.
Girlstart After School is one of only two full-year, research- and standards-based STEM
education programs for girls—and our programs have the widest reach.
• In a report highlighting strong out-of-school time (OST) STEM programs across the
nation, the Afterschool Alliance commended Girlstart’s Project IT Girl program results:
87% of the program participants entered a 4-year university, with 80% of them pursuing
STEM majors and careers. The study is available here.
• Girlstart’s programs were highlighted extensively in a recent Booz Allen Hamilton study,
conducted on behalf of NASA’s Summer of Innovation project. The study (download
here) identified 50 best practices in providing out-of-school time STEM programming
to at-risk 4th-9th grade students. Girlstart was one of 13 organizations in the U.S.
highlighted in the report and many of the best practices were informed by information
shared by Girlstart.
• The After School Alliance has invited Girlstart to participate in a national survey they will
be doing in 2012; the study will examine effective STEM education programs throughout
the United States. Last year, they featured Girlstart’s Project IT Girl program in a report
highlighting strong out-of-school time (OST) STEM programs, particularly commending
our strong program outcomes: 87% of the program participants entered a 4-year
university, with 80% of them pursuing STEM majors and careers.
• Girlstart was selected to participate in a Change the Equation pilot research and
evaluation study that will result in a national database of effective STEM education
programs. There are fewer than 100 STEM organizations in the U.S. who were asked
to participate in this pilot program—Girlstart is proud that we will have two of our core
programs featured by Change the Equation: Girlstart After School and Girlstart Summer
• Since 2009, Girlstart has expanded its After School program from 4 campuses (fall of
2009) to 21 in the fall of 2011. Girlstart After School now reaches 470+ 4th-8th grade girls
through weekly after school programs as well as an estimated additional 2,500 children,
parents, and teachers through Community STEM Education activities at partner schools.
In addition to reaching 4th-8th grade girls, who are the most at risk of losing interest in
STEM, we are also piloting an after school program for 3rd grade girls (to anticipate the
first STAAR tests in the spring of the 3rd grade year).
• Since 2009, Girlstart has expanded its intensive, week-long (40-hour), Austin Summer
Camp programs from 8 annually to 15 in 2012, which will reach 375 girls.
• Since 2009, Girlstart expanded the reach of its annual Girls in STEM conference—
at UT-Austin—now reaching more than 500 girls from across the region. In addition,
half are girls from our After School programs, and attend on scholarship, with free
transportation provided by Girlstart.
• Girlstart launched Summer Camp ‘to Go,’ where Girlstart brings its high-quality, 40-hour,
STEM summer camp programs to communities outside Austin. Summer Camp ‘to Go’
will reach an additional 175 girls in Summer 2012, for a total of 550 across all camps.
• Girlstart launched After School ‘to Go,’ where we deliver our after school programming
outside the Austin region.
• Girlstart expanded the reach of our Community STEM Education programs—such as
family-friendly Science Extravaganzas and StarLab—from approximately 2,000 girls and
family members each year, to more than 10,000 in 2011.
Why This Matters
• Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was 3x as fast as growth in non- STEM jobs.
STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17% through 2018, compared to 9.8% growth
for non-STEM occupations. STEM workers also command higher wages, earning 26%
more than their non-STEM counterparts. In addition, STEM workers are also less likely
to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts, and if they do experience
joblessness, they are quicker to find a new job than a non-STEM professional.
• However, women’s share of the STEM workforce is only 24%, in contrast to their more
balanced share among the college-educated workforce (49%). This is owing to the fact that
women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in
• While most parents of K-12 students (93%) believe that STEM education should be a priority
in the U.S., only half (49%) think that it actually is a top priority for this country.
• Only 1 in 5 STEM college students feel that their K-12 education prepared them extremely
well for their college courses in STEM. 76% of parents feel that the U.S. is doing a poor job
of teaching STEM compared to other countries.
• Parents who feel that STEM should be a priority feel this way because they want to ensure
the U.S. remains competitive in the global marketplace (53%) and to produce the next
generation of innovators (51%); fewer say it’s to enable students to have well-paying (36%)
or fulfilling careers (30%).
• Nearly 4 in 5 STEM college students say they decided to study STEM in high school or
earlier, and parents say STEM interest begins at an early age (8.2 years). Female students
are more likely to say that they chose STEM to make a difference (49% vs 34% males).
• Parents and students overwhelmingly use the words ‘fun’, ‘interesting’ and ‘encourage’
when asked what can be done to help children become interested in STEM. “Expose
them at an early age, show them it is fun and interesting.” “Fun games—see how STEM is
actually applicable to real life.” “...a lot more hands on and visual learning ...”
Girlstart’s programs address the nation’s STEM crisis by building STEM skills at the same time
we foster girls’ interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers.