We’ve all heard a lot about the push to encourage girls into STEM, but just how do we achieve this objective? One view, for instance, is that we need to start exposing girls and young women to the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) at an early age. The idea behind this approach is that when girls reach college, they will be prepared to apply for a STEM major. Not only that, but they will be well-prepared enough to succeed! Girls-only STEM summer programs encourage young women to study a STEM field. Therefore, by encouraging young women in middle and high school to participate in these programs, a pathway into a STEM career can begin.
Why Spaces for Girls in STEM Matter
To put it simply, girls-only STEM summer programs encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields. Why do these particular summer experiences for high school students matter?
By forging relationships and providing role models in coding and CS at a younger age, these immersive programs foster the community aspect of life as a girl in a male-dominated field before college. That perspective and timing makes all the difference. This social impact and the undeniable benefits of expanded equitable exposure together result in more successful women in STEM overall, when it comes to majors and professions. These lessons will carry over to impact future generations of learners, as well.
This article is here to review some of the top STEM coding and CS activities during the summer for high school girls. That way, you’ll be ready to apply—or encourage a peer to apply—for these special programs when the time comes. Staying engaged and active during summer via extracurriculars is one of the best ways to help your college application stand out during admissions season.
Recommended STEM Programs for Girls
Gaining early exposure to the STEM fields during your education opens up doors to pursue a wider variety of subjects in college and beyond. For this reason, exploring STEM topics through summer programs now is a great start. Check out the following options for girls to see what piques your interest, and what appeals to your other strengths!
Below is a list of recommended high school STEM summer programs that are exclusively for girls. Many of these programs are free and highly sought after; so, if you are a young woman considering a career in STEM, put in an application to one or more of them.
Girls Who Code has one mission: to close the gender gap in technology. To do so, this summer program for high schoolers offers a seven-week introductory computer science program. Eligible students are girls going into their junior or senior year of high school. Following, participants learn through hands-on real-world projects in art and storytelling, robotics, video games, and more. It’s true, this day camp does not require participants to have any previous coding/computer science experience; as a result, the program is very competitive (and popular) to gain entry.
Locations: several locations including Los Angeles, CA; Seattle, WA; Washington DC; New York City, NY; Bay Area, CA; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; and Chicago, IL
Application deadline: February 15
This high school summer program aims to increase diversity in the field of artificial intelligence by offering 9th-grade girls a three-week residential program of activities. For example, lectures, hands-on research projects, field trips, and mentoring activities. Competition is fierce for this particular summer program so make sure you give yourself ample time to put together a strong application!
Location: Stanford, CA
Application deadline: February 13
Cost: $6,500, however financial aid is available.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aka MIT, has a goal in offering this program to spark high school girls’ interest in the future study of engineering and computer science. This four-week summer academic and residential experience provides high school girls the opportunity to explore engineering. In fact, students learn through hands-on classes, labs, and team-based projects. Students chose between two streams: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science or Mechanical Engineering. As expected with an MIT course, this program is very competitive; only sixty applicants out of seven hundred earn acceptance. Nonetheless, the education offered at MIT’s STEM programs for girls is unparalleled.
Location: Cambridge, MA
Application deadline: January 15
Cost: Free for families earning less than $120,000 and $3,500 for families earning more than $120,000.
This program’s motto is ‘Empowering young women to pursue careers in science and medicine’. Accordingly, this competitive program incorporates a mix of small-group discussions, demonstrations, and hands-on lab activities to explore current research topics in reproductive health. The program is offered over a period of six weeks on each Saturday during the spring semester to 10th-12th girls living in Philadelphia. Once completed, participants may apply for a paid summer internship.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Application deadline: January 4
This program was founded to address two concerns for women in STEM. Firstly, there is a lack of mentors and the lack of a peer network, which leads to a high dropout rate of girls in STEM studies. Secondly, there is a low number of women pursuing graduate degrees and STEM careers. Instead, GSTEM strives to fix this. This five-week day camp is geared toward young women in their high school junior year who have a high aptitude in STEM subjects and offers participants the opportunity to work with a STEM mentor and work on an intensive research project for five weeks.
Location: New York City, NY
Application deadline: April 15 (RD)
Cost: $4,000, financial assistance is available
This short three-day program works to dispel stereotypes in the high-tech industry offering a day camp to high school girls. Participants listen to executive speakers, participate in technology tours and demonstrations, and network. In addition, girls may learn through hands-on experience in workshops. These provide a great opportunity to collaborate and network with peers and mentors in their field. Camps run from early spring through summer.
Location: Offered around the world, including Reno, Nevada; Redmond, WA; Las Colinas, TX; and Lehi, UT.
Application deadline: Rolling.
First Bytes aims to dispel myths about computer science, as well as intrigue young women with the potential of computing and the excitement of problem-solving. This program is offered to juniors and senior girls who reside in Texas. Specifically, this week-long experience offers participants the opportunity to get hands-on programming experience, visit research labs and learn about the newest technology.
Location: Austin, TX
Application deadline: March 13
This week-long residential high school summer program’s goal is to build a community among women who aspire to be engineers and strengthen self-confidence among high school girls; specifically, those who are interested in STEM. The program introduces rising 11th and 12th-grade girls to the fundamental principles and concepts of engineering, as well as the influences of engineering on society. Students attend engineering lectures conducted by faculty and guest lecturers, conduct laboratory experiments, and observe laboratory demonstrations. Additionally, they participate in tours of campus labs and facilities and meet with professional engineers.
Location: College Park, MD
Application deadline: March 11, 2019
Cost: $1,100, a limited number of scholarships are available
This one-week residential camp is a standout STEM summer program for girls. It gives young women an opportunity to explore topics and issues in engineering while meeting peers and mentors who have similar interests. Rising 10th-12th graders get to explore electrical and computer engineering through classroom instruction, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and tours, as well as team projects. This immersive experience allows high school women to take their learning outside the classroom.
Location: Urbana-Champaign, IL
Application deadline: March 1
Cost: $1,000, financial aid scholarships are available
Smith College is the first women’s college in the nation to establish its own program in engineering science. This four-week residential summer program welcomes young women in high school with strong interests in science, engineering, and medicine. Specifically, it provides the opportunity to do hands-on research with Smith faculty in the life and physical sciences and in engineering. As one of the very first high school summer programs for girls in STEM, SSEP has a storied history.
Location: Northampton, MA
Application deadline: March 22, rolling thereafter.
Cost: $6,380, financial aid is available
This program teaches young girls how they make a difference as future engineers. Therefore, girls participate in discussions with engineers from all different areas of engineering, including chemical, civil and environmental, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. Carnegie Mellon’s STEM summer program for girls targets a slightly younger age group: rising 8th and 9th graders. Additionally, the program targets girls residing in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2017, twenty-six applicants out of a pool of eighty were accepted.
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Application deadline: TBA
Interested in applying to any of these STEM programs for girls? Any one of these top-notch programs will help distinguish applicants from the rest of the pile when in comes to college and job apps. If these opportunities appeal to you, then we first recommend you give yourself ample time to put together a strong summer application. For most of these programs, you will be competing against a large pool of other students. So, think carefully about your responses to the essay questions and your choice of teacher/mentor who can recommend you for the program.
You’ll also want to create a backup plan for how to use your summer productively in case you aren’t accepted to any of your top choices. This isn’t the ideal case, but especially if you’re flying solo, students will still want to have a productive summer despite potential obstacles. Even without a structured STEM summer program for girls, you can still find—or create—empowering and impactful ways to spend your upcoming summer weeks.
How Empowerly helps
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask for help preparing. In fact, many of our students at Empowerly have been successfully admitted to these STEM summer programs for girls, among others. For more information on how to get help applying for these programs, consider each of the following steps:
- Research: The application process begins with finding the right programs to apply for.
- Writing: Then, you need to create the strongest application possible.
- Experience: Whether accepted or not, your counselor can even help you make the most of your learning experience, and carry forward the momentum into your other work!
Having an expert in your corner for these summer programs for high school girls can turn out to be a huge asset. A college counseling team can help your student work smarter and harder.
STEM programs for girls: the big picture
Finally, looking forward as a woman in STEM in high school, you may also want to start thinking about working with a college counselor on your overall college admissions strategy. It’s great that you’re planning for how to make the most of your summer break time! On the other hand, do you have a plan for how this summer will level up your overall student profile? Whether you feel totally unprepared or simply have a few questions, know that you don’t have to do this alone. Our phenomenal network of counselors can help guide your process and take some of this weight off your shoulders.
These STEM summer programs for girls are a great way to start working towards a great educational future and technical career. For more tips and advice on navigating this pathway through the US college admissions process and helping your student secure admission at their best-fit colleges, Empowerly is here. Take charge of your future by getting started now.
Best of luck to you! We know you can do this.