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Steering young girls into scientific studies with a unique experience

Emma Kiraly, Project Manager, Entrepreneurial Skills Pass

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, one can only notice that the gender gap between boys and girls completing studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is still wide: there are twice as many male graduates in STEM as there are female graduates (see this report from the European Commission from 2019).

Yet, companies are increasingly embracing technology to bring their working practices into the 21st century, and need competent and skilled staff to help them with that transition.

One way to bridge the gender gap in STEM is to help young girls access opportunities that will boost their interest and confidence and inspire them to pursue their studies in these fields. For example, students who take part in the JA Company Programme participate in hands-on workshops that help them discover these fields. Professionals join them in the classroom and mentor them through the creation of their Mini Company.

The experiences don’t stop there! Last summer, two young girls from a Belgian high school, Charlotte and Lieselotte, were selected to continue their practical experience at the Delta Air Lines National Flight Academy. Charlotte and Lieselotte completed the JA Company Programme and hold the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP), the international certification that proves that students have had a real entrepreneurship experience while at school and have the knowledge, skills and competences to start a business or be successfully employed. They were therefore eligible to attend the National Flight Academy in Florida.

The Delta Air Lines National Flight Academy is a premier STEM education institution that provides students with a fully immersive, learning adventure of a lifetime! By working in teams, students collaborate and complete missions using a variety of STEM-based concepts while facilitators and chiefs (program counselors) incorporate 21st Century Core Competency Skills like leadership, communication, and critical thinking.

After a long trip all the way to Pensacola, Florida, Charlotte and Lieselotte joined 'squadrons' made of up to 12 youngsters and with whom they would work during their entire stay. A typical day would begin with the allocation of a mission. Charlotte and Lieselotte remember the mission they got one morning: “we worked on an aircraft with an operational challenge and had to look after the customers.” To do so, Charlotte remembers all the steps they went through: “we calculated the angle, the speed and height at which we had to fly and the amount of gasoline we needed. We learned a formula we had to apply all the time. Once we were ready with the preparations, we were assigned a cockpit and a role (pilot and co-pilot) and undertake the mission!”

Lieselotte admits that it did not always go smoothly: “At first it was difficult to understand the jargon in English. Thankfully, our supervisors were very patient and helped a lot. As they say: “Practice makes perfect”!”

After an intense week, a final test helped them realise how much they had learned about the aviation industry in such a short timeframe! Their hard work was recognised during a graduation ceremony, in presence of Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines.

“This is an experience we will never forget! We are incredibly grateful to Delta Air Lines, JA Europe and Vlajo for the opportunity and our school for their support.”

This year, Delta Air Lines is inviting five JA ESP holders to take part in the National Flight Academy this summer!

We are very much looking forward to knowing who the lucky ones are and follow their adventure all the way from Florida!

Category : Entrepreneurship Education, Entrepreneurial Skills Pass (ESP) Posted : 11 February 2020 11:05 UTC
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Emma Kiraly, Project Manager, Entrepreneurial Skills Pass

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