ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Every summer for two weeks, Dr. Kelly Lane-deGraaf opens her lab at Fontbonne University for her free Girls-in-Science summer science experience.
“I’m a disease ecologist, so I study parasitology and population genetics and some animal behavior and some coding and modeling, so the girls come and basically dip into a little bit of all of that,” she says.
DeGraaf says the program is partly to encourage the girls to continue on in the sciences, which tend to be male-dominated, but also, she wants girls to understand what being a scientist really looks like. For example, it’s a lot of writing, which surprises the girls.
“It’s a lot of failure. It’s a lot of ‘well, that didn’t work, how can I fix this and try it again and make something better. How can I trouble shoot this and better answer this question,” she says.
Girls tend to be raised to be perfect and exhibit perfectionism at a higher rate than boys, and that can impact their love of science unless they understand that failure and trouble-shooting are part of it. DeGraaf’s program is aimed at 7th, 8th and 9th grade girls, but she’s considering expanding that.