Bright Minds: Advice for aspiring female scientists

It’s been widely observed that there aren’t enough females entering the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, as they’re popularly lumped together.

That perception is much more than an anecdotal one.

Men outnumber women in STEM careers in the United States by 3 to 1, according to the National Math and Science Initiative, which promotes educational programs to increase America’s competitiveness.

Fewer than 15 percent of American engineers are women, although women comprise 48 percent of the nation’s workforce, NMSI data reveals.

Factor into this evolving scenario the fact that U.S. students are ranked 25th in math and 17th in science on a global level. This 2009 assessment was undertaken by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based forum of 34 countries founded to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

STEM occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, provide opportunities for workers to “play instrumental roles in expanding scientific frontiers, developing new products, and generating technical progress.”

So, how to encourage more girls to join boys in taking a long, hard look at STEM?

Four Howard County women who work at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in North Laurel draw on their personal experiences to offer sage advice to girls who are dreaming -- as they once did -- of carving out a satisfying career in a demanding, male-dominated field. Click on the names below to read about each woman and her advice to young women.

Debra Buczkowski, planetary science

Danielle Hilliard, air and missile defense

Sheri Lewis, global disease surveillance

Sezin Palmer, research and exploratory development

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