Emily Strattan (U-I photo)

Programs offered by the University of Iowa to draw more young people into so-called STEM fields appear to be working.

During 2017, more than 37,000 students took part in at least one of the U-I Healthcare programs tied to science, technology, engineering and math. That’s a 64% increase from a year ago. Emily Strattan, the U-I’s STEM education coordinator, says 77% more young women took part, thanks to a program aimed at middle school-aged girls.

“Women tend to be underrepresented in STEM,” Strattan says. “They’re about 29% in the STEM workforce, so that has been a big target of ours, to engage young females in STEM.” Over the next 12 months, she says the programs will reach out to draw the interest of even more students.

Strattan says, “We’re trying to target students of diverse ethnic backgrounds, targeting students from rural areas who maybe don’t have the access or funding to be able to attend a STEM program here on campus.” The program called “Girls Go STEM” focuses on girls in 6th through 8th grades.

(Thanks to Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio)