In 2011, Beyoncé first sang the immortal words: “Who run the world? GIRLS!”
And that is the theme of Girls & Science, an annual event held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, in which girls (and boys!) and their caregivers get to meet women who work in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) professions, and get a glimpse of what they do for their careers. A record-breaking 11,569 people attended the event this year, up from approximately 7,000 in 2015.
Girls & Science is not only a fun way to engage with female role models and STEAM activities, but is also important in shaping the future of women in STEAM: multiple studies have shown that, while girls have just as much interest in STEAM as boys when they are young, a steep decline occurs around middle school. This is largely because of gender bias from their peers, parents, or teachers who may lead girls to believe that they are naturally not as good as their male counterparts in these fields. Though this misconception has repeatedly been proven false, the stigma is still deeply ingrained.
For the 2016 event, the Denver Art Museum was represented by staff in the collections management, registration, and photography departments in a clubhouse titled “Preservation Station." Children and their caregivers got to examine real insect specimens and play games about integrated pest management, as well as investigate a painting with blacklights and learn about how different kinds of energy wavelengths can demonstrate “secrets” of artworks. Additionally, guests looked at different types of storage materials and mounts, and then built their own boxes for their collectible buttons; and finally, they checked out pictures of DAM storage and behind-the-scenes work.
Many people would not immediately guess that there can be so much science at the Denver Art Museum. It is fabulous to not only have the opportunity to share what we do with others, but hopefully pass on our passion to the next generation and show that there are all sorts of careers to be found in an art museum. It was a privilege to get to participate in such an important and inspiring event, and we look forward to taking part again next year!