Sarah Foster is the Founder and President of STEM Like a Girl, a nonprofit organization that works to “[inspire] girls to develop interest and confidence in STEM through hands-on activities, parent engagement, and positive female role models”. Sarah talks with us about why blockchain technology is a growing industry that girls may want to consider as a career.
BitIRA: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in youth computer science education?
Sarah Foster: I think the number one obstacle is exposure and awareness. Many youth don’t know what computer scientists actually do because they haven’t been exposed to the field or to mentors working in these roles. I fully believe that kids can’t become what they don’t see so finding opportunities for kids to learn about computer science in a fun, hands-on way is so important for sparking their interest. This engagement needs to start young too, especially for girls! High school is too late as many girls have already self-selected out of advanced math and computer science classes by then. Additionally, providing computer science mentors is important so kids get a better idea of the amazing and diverse job opportunities there are for people interested in computer science.
BitIRA: What have been your team’s most surprising takeaways from your Parent-Daughter Workshops?
Sarah: Engaging and exciting young girls in STEM is always our primary goal with our workshops. I love seeing their faces when they get their design to work or figure something out for the first time. Their smiles and high fives radiate confidence and excitement. What was really surprising was the parent’s reactions to our workshops. I’ve received so many comments from parents saying how inspired they were by our workshops and watching their daughter’s excitement. Many have commented on how they loved the uninterrupted bonding time with their daughter. As a parent myself, I know how tempting it is to drop your kids off at a camp to get a few hours of free time so hearing this from the parents was unexpected but really special.
BitIRA: What drew you to a career in STEM?
Sarah: In high school I liked science and math so I went to college planning to major in pre-med. When I got there, I realized that’s not where my interests were and a professor asked me if I’d ever considered engineering. I hadn’t but once I looked into it more, I decided it was the right fit and switched into Chemical Engineering. I then went on to receive my Masters in Biomedical Engineering and worked as a Research and Development Engineer in the biotech field. I am very analytical and a problem solver by nature so I love that my career in STEM allowed me to look at a problem and design experiments and solutions to solve those problems or improve upon existing technologies. Now as the President of STEM Like a Girl, I love that I can use my background in engineering to help inspire the next generation of girls in STEM.
BitIRA: What do you see as the most compelling reasons for girls to pursue careers in crypto or blockchain?
Sarah: Crypto and blockchain are such new technologies so the field is rapidly growing and changing. If girls are looking for a fast paced, new technology where they have the opportunity to really shape its path, then this is a great career to pursue. As the field continues to grow and expand, companies will be hiring more and more people to fill these roles so it’s a great time for girls and women to get involved.