With nearly half of the U.S. workforce consisting of women, why is it that they occupy only a quarter of STEM careers (U.S. Census Survey, 2009)? The answers to this question may be varied, but one thing is clear—young women need more encouragement and support to actively pursue and succeed in STEM studies and careers.

PISCES began the Women’s STARS (STem Aerospace Research Scholars) Program in 2014 for this very purpose—to empower Hawaii’s young women with the knowledge that their dreams are not only possible, but achievable. This summer from June 19 to 24, we coordinated and executed the fourth and largest STARS workshop yet, drawing 11 female students from high schools across Hawaii Island for an island-wide space and science adventure packed with engaging presentations, exciting tours and hands-on activities.

“Taking part in the STARS program was such an enlightening and empowering experience for me,” said Hope Kudo, STARS student and a senior at Kealakehe High School in West Hawaii. “Getting to meet female professionals in aerospace, engineering, and more has inspired me even more towards shattering the glass ceiling.

I was able to meet like-minded individuals that share my interests and through our shared interests, I’ve gained amazing friends. I was also able to network with industry professionals, gaining future help for my science fair project, senior project, and internships.”

This unique program was designed with variety in mind–and to put local students in touch with successful female scientists who have faced the challenges that many women confront in the working world. The majority of the presenters were women themselves, sharing not only their work, but their stories that got them to where they are.

PISCES is extremely grateful to HTDC for their $5,000 sponsorship of the 2017 STARS program, supporting a mutually-shared goal of developing Hawaii’s skilled workforce. In addition, we were fortunate to partner with an outstanding lineup of individuals and organization from around the state to make this program possible.

In addition, PISCES would like to thank Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Jessica Dempsey of JCMT/EA Observatory, Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory, UH Hilo’s “Team Vulcan” Robotics Team, Guest speaker Alyssa Loving, Caterpillar Inc., Subaru Telescope, Pacific Aviation Museum, and all the hardworking interns and staff at PISCES who made this summer’s program a memorable and enriching experience for our local young women.

View photos from the 2017 STARS Program >>