Garrison Forest School- Educating Thinkers for the Future

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Lauren Gillis, GFS WISE student, at work in an engineering lab at Johns Hopkins University.

It’s 2013, and everyone still wants to know why there are so few women in science. With women making huge strides in workplace equality in other fields, science and engineering still remain largely boys’ clubs. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on a study done at Yale showing that science professors, when presented with job applications from two young scientists with the same qualifications (one male, the other female), they were significantly more likely to offer the man a job. And if they did hire the woman, her salary would, on average, start about $4,000 lower than the man’s. Oof. Disappointing. But surprising? Maybe not.

We know that girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science—and those that do may lose their natural inclination toward the field when they face the reality of how tough it can be for women in the professional realm. But now imagine a place where young women are actively encouraged to pursue their interest in these fields. And it’s not just in the classroom. Here, upper school students get in-depth, immersive (read: really exciting) mentorships that take them into actual research laboratories. At John Hopkins. Of course, this place does exist, and it’s at Garrison Forest School– which is continuing to grow their fabulous WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) program.

The WISE program at Garrison Forest has been in existence for nine years now. And by the end of this year, almost a third of Garrison Forest students now participate by the time they graduate. In fact, the mentorship program is so popular  that the school has introduced a new WISE program in Classics, with two students working on an epigraphy project last spring,  at the JHU Archaeological Museum. They spent a semester studying a Roman funerary, and culminated their research by presenting their findings at two public gatherings at the museum — including an academic symposium at which they were the only high school presenters.

WISE students can also study at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Whiting School of Engineering and the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. Through WISE, girls can work with Jhpiego, a JHU affiliate that works in developing countries to provide life-saving services that target maternal health, women and girls, and their communities. Needless to say, the work girls participate in through WISE truly fosters engagement and enthusiasm in students and results in girls participating in a range of related activities long after their time in WISE is over. After all, with such encouragement and support at an early age—and with such phenomenal resources at their fingertips—WISE is just the beginning.

For more information about Garrison Forest School, or to schedule a visit, go to www.gfs.org.

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