A core element of the James Center’s mission is educating young women for careers in the 21st century workplace that serve an essential public purpose. The critical shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) workers in the United States, and the significant underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, have prompted Garrison Forest to create experiential programs designed to educate and excite students about STEM careers.
Garrison Forest's flagship STEM program is Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a partnership with Johns Hopkins University established in 2005 through grant funding from the E.E. Ford Foundation and the France Merrick Foundation. Participants in the WISE program gain hands-on research experience in Johns Hopkins labs and are mentored by faculty and graduate students in the Whiting School of Engineering, the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine.
Over 20% of the last three graduating classes have participated in WISE and over 70% of program alumnae declare a STEM major in college, with over half of that number majoring in an engineering discipline. These outcomes underscore the validity of research that points to mentoring and experiential education as pivotal to engaging young women in STEM.
The expansion of WISE to the arena of Public Health has been a logical next step in GFS’s effort to assure that interested and capable students find an area of study, and perhaps career, that is science-centered and serves a public need. Public Health’s focus on the physical, mental, and environmental health concerns of communities and populations, combined with the rich diversity of areas of study offered at JHU’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide students with unique ways to combine interest in science with humanitarian concerns, whether they be local, national, or international.
Opportunities are available to students with an interest in public policy through placement in JHU’s Institute for Policy Studies on projects with a special focus on issues affecting non-profit organizations.
A pilot internship program in Spring 2012 with Jhpiego, the JHU-affiliated international health organization that focuses on maternal and child health in developing countries, is opening the door to options related to global health issues of particular relevance to women.