WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) - The Journal of Science published a study about a year ago (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6323/389) suggesting that girls as young as six can be led to believe that men are inherently smarter and more talented than women. As a result, some girls may shy away from certain fields of work, especially STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.
To help combat this, about 80 eighth grade girls in the Westerville City School District went to Westerville North High School on Wednesday for the MODEL (Mentors Opening Doors, Enriching Lives) program. They watched and discussed the critically-acclaimed film "Hidden Figures" and then listened to a panel of women in STEM careers.
"It makes me want to go do something," said student Jalissa Lopez. "It makes me not want to sit down and be quiet. It makes me want to fight for women and equality."
Jalissa Lopez and Sabrina Freshly are both eighth graders at Blendon Middle School.
"Just because of their gender men are almost preferred over women," said Freshly. "It confuses me because there's nothing that we can't do that men can do, really no difference."
At 13-years-old, both students already know they can be successful in whatever they choose, no matter what obstacles stands before them.
Executive director of secondary academic affairs Scott Reeves said women are typically under-represented in STEM careers.
"It's a concerted effort not just here in Westerville, but around the country to build more women, more women of color, more women period into those fields and let them see that this is a viable option for you," said Reeves.
That's exactly what the MODEL program sets out to do.
"We've seen better behavior. We've seen increased attendance," said Reeves. "We've seen increased grades and we see the young ladies see a greater possibility for themselves in the future."
And even though they're not exactly sure what they want to do when they grow up, Freshly and Lopez are already well on their way to bright future.
"I think I can do anything that I want to do and as long as I try, I think I'll be able to succeed in one way or another," said Freshly
"Gender is just gender," said Lopez. "I am still a powerful woman and I'm a powerful person. That's all that matters."
Reeves said they're always looking for inspiring women to come mentor and uplift their students each month. If you're interested, contact the Westerville City School District (http://www.westerville.k12.oh.us/).