SXSW EDU 2024: Introducing girls to STEM

Priya Ramachandran, a board member with Girlstart, joined WorkingNation to share her thoughts on attracting girls and women to STEM fields

It’s important to attract more girls and women into STEM, according to Priya Ramachandran, a board member with Austin-based nonprofit – Girlstart.

Ramachandran joined WorkingNation’s editor-in-chief Ramona Schindelheim for WorkingNation Overheard at SXSW EDU 2024 in Austin.

Ramachandran – who is also the senior director of engineering at NI – says her own career path was inspired by her father, “My dad was an engineer, and so he included me in a lot of his projects. He always cultivated curiosity in me and problem solving in me. And so when it came time to go to school – for me, engineering felt like the right answer. I’ve had my dad as a great influencer for me to pick that track.”

She recalls that when she was a student, she didn’t see a lot of women in her engineering program.

Ramachandran’s involvement with Girlstart is motivated by her own experience – not seeing those other women. “Girlstart focuses a lot on the K-12 group to get more girls interested in STEM careers. The way they do it is with more hands-on introduction to STEM through their afterschool programs and summer camps.

“They bring in a lot of pieces into their curriculum where there’s more creativity. They also bring in confidence-building elements. ‘Hey, look there, you just did that. That is the engineering design process. So see, it’s not hard and rocket science is easy.’ They do that consistently.”

Learn more about Girlstart.

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