Space Center Houston receives $1 million donation with hopes more girls will learn about STEM

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Space Center Houston received a boost to its STEM program, which the donor hopes will help narrow the gender gap.

Space Center Houston offers a variety of programs to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM.

The Girls STEM Pathway program at Space Center Houston was shown in full Wednesday, giving about 30 Bayside Intermediate students a hands-on feel of what working in a STEM career might be like.

“I didn’t realize my reflexes were that bad,” said Brenna Bernhardt, a Bayside Intermediate student who wants to be an engineer.

The fact that most of these jobs are held by men only spurs them on.

“This opportunity was really, really fun and I would recommend it to anyone,” Bernhardt said.

It’s a passion her teachers see in female students. However, you are not sure why it fades over time.

“We lose her somewhere along the way,” explained Marie Yancey, a Bayside Intermediate teacher. “We’re not exactly sure where. We want to make sure they know they are special.”

50 years ago, women made up 8% of the STEM workforce. Three years ago it rose to 27%. Men are still in the majority. It’s even worse in Houston. Only 24% of STEM workers are women. As more private space companies come to Houston, STEM jobs are projected to grow more than 10% by 2030.

They pay well too. They pay nearly $90,000, which is more than double the average Houston salary.

A place for girls to learn about STEM got a boost on Wednesday. Dhaval Jadav donated $1 million to Space Center Houston. The majority of the workers employed by the Alliantgroup co-founder are women. An important reason for his donation was to attract more women to STEM.

“Women are just better,” said Jadav. “We men have egos, we want to win. Women are always looking for solutions.”

Space Center Houston officials said the money will help bring more underserved communities into the classroom.

“A gift like this will allow us to dramatically increase the capacity for students to provide the resources to participate in our programs,” said William Harris, President of Space Center Houston.

It’s a place of interest and could help close STEM’s gender divide.

“As a young woman, I think that’s wrong because I believe that women can do it just as well as men,” said Bernhardt.

Space Center Houston said 200,000 Houston-area students enroll in its STEM programs each year. And it’s not just children.

It offers programs and scholarships for teachers. Wednesday’s donation will open up opportunities for communities not reached before.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Space Center Houston receives $1 million donation with hopes more girls will learn about STEM

Dais Johnston

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