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Community Engagement

Female mentors inspire STEM career choices, virtually

Female mentors inspire STEM career choices, virtually

Education, Volunteerism

Who inspired you? What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of? When the next generation of female researchers and chemists came face-to-face – virtually – with female PPG employees working in those fields, no question was left unanswered. Social distancing didn’t stand in the way of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) inspiration when girls from three Boys & Girls Clubs in the Whittier, California area were joined via Zoom by PPG STEM professionals who shared their personal career inspirations and journeys and answered students’ questions as part of the X-Bots Robotics Career Panel.

For one student, the experience expanded her view on STEM career opportunities. “It was really nice to hear from other women who have jobs in engineering. It made it seem possible for me to get there too and gave me a lot of hope,” she said.

Another student participant added, “The PPG panelists inspired us young women to choose our own paths and create our own futures. Their work ethic stood out to me and inspired us to have courage in ourselves and take the opportunities that life presents. I really appreciated how the PPG women broke gender stereotypes.”

A partner of the PPG Foundation, X-Bots Robotics, an award-winning, community-based high school robotics team operating under FIRST® Robotics Competition, aims to inspire the next generation of leaders by developing a passion for STEM careers at a young age. Using the Girls Who Code curriculum, which works to close the gender gap in technology by building a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models, X-Bots’ female students and alumni work with the local Boys & Girls Clubs to teach basic computer science concepts in a fun and creative way. The career panel served as an exciting extension the program, while showcasing career possibilities.

According to Elisa Avila, X-Bots executive director, when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the program to distancing learning, several elements such as in-person coding competitions adapted. “The virtual panel provided a great alternative to bring students together and create a network for future generations of STEM stars.”

Avila shared that many of the girls who participated in the panel often don’t know anyone working in a STEM field and may not be aware of the many available career options.

“We often hear our students say ‘I didn’t realize how much I love chemistry,’ or ‘I didn’t know all of the possible career paths I can explore with a chemistry degree.’ By making a connection between real-world professionals and their everyday career journeys, the girls can see real opportunities ahead of them.”

To learn more about X-Bots, click here.

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