Education Technology

Celebrating Girl Scouts Day: Seeing Herself in STEM

Posted 03/12/2019 by Peter Balyta, Ph.D.

Many people know about Girl Scouts, especially when cookie season comes around and boxes of Thin Mints® and Samoas® line the break rooms of offices and accrue in the pantries of homes.

Yes, the cookies are delicious, but what Girl Scouts is doing to shape girls to be the next generation of scientists, engineers, innovators, and leaders, is truly remarkable.

We’ve known for a while that gender diversity in STEM careers is lacking (women comprise half of the workforce, yet hold fewer than 25% of U.S. STEM jobs), and beyond a readiness deficit by gender, as evidenced in ACT’s 2017 STEM report, there is also a confidence gap for girls that starts early on in their educational journeys.

Simply put, girls can’t be what they can’t see.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Texas Instruments (TI) and the TI Foundation are partnering to change that.

As a company comprised largely of engineers, Texas Instruments is highly invested in increasing students’ STEM competencies, especially as we look to hire within our local talent pool. We provided funding to Girl Scouts to get more girls actively engaged in STEM, and they created the STEM Center of Excellence in Dallas to provide girls with a safe environment to try new things (like robotics), take risks and learn from failure, all while building confidence and self-assurance.

Our team members are a huge part of the success of these initiatives, as they donate their time to be role models to girls who might not know what they can do in STEM fields, or might not have the confidence to try something new, particularly in a male-dominated field like robotics.

One shining exemplar of ours is Ayesha Mayhugh, a Texas Instruments engineer and volunteer involved in this year’s Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Cookie Box Creations contest.

The Cookie Box Creations contest teams up middle and high school girls with architects and engineers, in a design contest to transform Girl Scout cookie boxes into free-standing structures.

Using STEM elements, this annual activity challenges girls to develop critical thinking skills and promotes cooperation and team building, while building the structures around one central theme (this year’s theme was “countries around the world”).

"Engineers are problem-solvers, and the methods we apply are the same – whether we’re working on a technical problem or trying to build a structure of cookie boxes. And we love to compete. My advice to other women: Be bold!"

Ayesha Mayhugh, Texas Instruments engineer

Education is critical to our future, our industry, and to the communities where we operate around the globe. Today’s world requires STEM aptitude, and like ACT and Girl Scouts, we’re hard at work to ensure all students are prepared.

Barring cookies, nothing could be sweeter than equal representation, interest, and attainment in STEM.

And everyone can do their part to ensure girls see themselves as the scientists, engineers, innovators, and leaders we know they can be. If you aren’t already a volunteer or role model in some capacity, I challenge you to become one for a girl in your life.

Happy Girl Scouts Day!

Interested in this blog? Read more.

About The Author: Peter Balyta, Ph.D., leads academic engagement and corporate citizenship for Texas Instruments, and is the president of TI Education Technology. He serves on a variety of boards that support his desire to engage students in STEM subjects. This includes serving on the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. Follow him on Twitter@pbalyta.