Medina Valley Middle School girls focused on STEM education

Instructor Tammi Masters sees growing interest among young women

SAN ANTONIO – Students at Medina Valley Middle School aren't letting the statistics of a gender gap in STEM fields keep them from pursuing their desired careers.

The students are deciding what they want to be when they grow up in a class called Career Explorations, including the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We do interest inventories and skills assessment stuff, and it kind of lets them know where their aptitude kind of takes them, where their interests takes them,” said Tammi Masters, the class instructor.

Masters said she does notice a difference in the interests of boys and girls in her classes.

“For the STEM careers, it’s probably 60-65 percent boys, so only one-third are the girls,” Masters said.

Women make up nearly half of the total work force in the United States, but only 24 percent of STEM professionals. Masters said she thinks the gender gap is improving.

“I do think that the equality is getting better with this younger generation than maybe it was a few years ago," Masters said.

Girls in the Career Explorations class, like Paityn Kinnett, agree with their teacher.

“I feel like the world is evolving to where women are just as good as men, and men are starting to understand that now,” Kinnett said.

This could be, in part, because younger generations are now seeing more women working outside of the home. Masters tries to invite women to come into her classroom and talk to students about their careers.

“I do think having women come in and talk about their careers, letting them know, I mean, we’re done with the housewife thing unless it’s a choice. Letting them know, whatever career you want, girls, go out and get it,” Masters said.

Other girls in the class, like Karlee Kindred, said the generation of women before her is making the transition easier. She said she credits female meteorologists with inspiring her to enter the field herself.

“People like you (KSAT's Katie Vossler) have already shown that, hey, we can do this, too. Y’all aren’t the only ones. Y’all already proved it, and we can just go on and continue that,” Kindred said.

Kiersten Lewis, another student in Masters' class, thinks it’s all about motivation.

“Honestly, I think the girls don’t want to put a lot of effort into it,” Lewis said. “But we can do it. We can do it just as good as guys can. We just don’t put the effort in.”