May 08, 2017

The future was female at University of Detroit Mercy on Friday, as the school hosted the American Heart Association’s “Go Red Goes STEM,” a unique event that brought together young women from Detroit Public Schools with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and mentors already working in the field.

Through speakers, speed mentoring and breakout sessions, the high school students, who listed medicine, dentistry and engineering among their career aspirations, learned how to achieve their goals, and the impact they may have once they do. Reaching them at this stage in their lives is critical to getting them on the path toward a STEM career.

“That is the time, as a junior or senior in high school, that you make decisions where to go with your life. … It is important to show (students) what opportunities are out there,” said Klaus Friedrich, an assistant professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Detroit Mercy.

Empowering young women to enter STEM fields is particularly important because they are currently underrepresented. Despite making up roughly 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, women hold just 24 percent of STEM jobs, according to a 2009 Census Bureau American Community Survey.

“That is a huge gap from where we need to be today,” said Raena Short, corporate development director for the American Heart Association.

Friedrich agrees about the need to increase diversity in STEM fields. “It has been neglected these past 200 years,” he said. “Now is the time to take decisive and focused steps to change that.” 

Go Red Goes STEM came from the American Heart Association’s commitment to changing these numbers — to making sure female voices are represented in scientific discussions.

This is the second Go Red Goes STEM event; the first was held previously in Chicago.

— By Amelia Skimin. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.