In 2013 Brooke began introducing computer science and STEM-related topics into her Technology Education course to 6th-8th grade students. Immediately she began to notice how her female students approached this new subject area versus the male students. In her own experience the males, on average, were more willing to dive in and troubleshoot problems with little to no prior experience. Conversely, her female students were (again, on average) more hesitant, reluctant and self-disparaging throughout the unit of study. The more this phenomenon played out in Brooke’s own classroom, the more curious she became. As she researched, she came to realize how gender equity in STEM was a very real and disturbing problem across the world.
Brooke quickly discovered that, even in central Kentucky, very few women were exploring STEM fields…even at the local high schools in her school district. In 2016, Brooke wrote a grant to a local fund within the Central Kentucky Community Foundation called Heels Together. Heels Together exist to support women-led solutions in the central Kentucky community. Brooke wrote a grant to Heels Together to host a Sit With Me event and launch her Google Innovator project Shattered Glass. (For more information on Sit With Me, please visit SitWithMe.org
Thanks to the Heels Together funding, support from Hardin County Schools, and tons of local volunteers, the first Shattered Glass Summit was held in June of 2017. Around 75 local 4th-6th grade girls descended on Elizabethtown Kentucky to make their mark in the world of STEM. The girls were placed into TEAMS, inspired by some of our favorite SHEroes in the tech industry. They participated in whole group activities as well as break out sessions. They built robots and programmed drones. They created retro video games, electronic circuits and music on the Raspberry Pi. The event was an overwhelming success.
“My daughter and my niece have not stopped talking about this event! It allowed them to see girls empowered and gave them a chance to use technology that seems to be geared primarily for boys. I love hearing the excitement in their voice when discussing the event!”
“This was a fantastic introduction to many of the coding and STEM related items out there. She was excited to be able to talk to her dad about parts on his machines at work that she played with in a smaller form. There have been many times since when she has talked about the glass ceiling and how she was going to shatter it.”
“My absolute favorite part was that the girls had to work together. We all know that being able to work with others (talk, listen, problem solve, improve, etc,) is so important today. I also feel that the fact that is was just for girls, made the girls feel important and boosted their self-esteem. I truly feel that if this continues each year, this could have a big impact on our community!”