Seth Kershner -
Although women make up about half of the United States workforce, they represent just 24 percent of careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In order to correct this, major nonprofit groups have been organizing STEM enrichment camps for middle- and high-school girls, driven by the philosophy that more women will pursue STEM careers if their interest is piqued at an early age.
But recently, some girls-only STEM programs have gone beyond fostering interest in science and math among the next generation of women. Branches of the U.S. military—in particular, the Navy—have increasingly been using these programs to market the military to girls as young as 11 and 12.
Founded in 1974, Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) organizes dozens of STEM conferences for middle- and high-school girls each year. According to its website, the EYH “recently had the opportunity to partner with the Navy and learn about careers where young women are underrepresented.” They give girls the following pitch: “You probably never gave much thought to having a career with the United States Navy. Many girls don’t.… We want to introduce you to several inspiring professional women who are currently active in the Navy and serve on aircraft carriers, who serve as Navy divers, or who serve in other interesting Navy careers.” Accompanying the text is a handy-dandy link to the Navy’s recruiting website.