black women

This young superstar wants more women in Science and Math

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By Victor Ochieng

Zoe Gadegbeku is a 19-year-old girl from Atlanta, Georgia whose life is a testimony that hard work pays off. She’s a former student of Washington University in St. Louis who studied science and technology. Her career path in sciences is one that many girls dread. Having experienced it all, she’s committed to encouraging more girls to pursue science and health courses.

For Gadegbeku, it isn’t just about talking without action. That’s why in 2011, she founded an organization called WISH— Women in Science & Health. The main objective of her organization is to inspire young women to chase careers in STEM (science, technology engineering, and math) courses.

“I undertook this project because of my enthusiasm for health- and science-based careers, and my discovery that fewer high school girls than boys choose and begin preparation for health-, science- or technology-based careers while in high school,” she said. “Girls who choose to take challenging math and science courses in high school are much more likely to successfully meet the rigors of science-, health-, or technology-based majors in college, I learned. Through WISH, I want to encourage, educate and positively affect young women in these career paths.”

Gadegbeku also received the National Young Woman of Distinction Award in 2013 and was a member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. In the same year that she founded WISH, she was honored with the Gold Award for creating the program. The award is the topmost honor for any Girl Scout and is only won by Ambassador and Senior Girl Scouts.

“While earning the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, Girl Scouts learn to identify community needs, problem-solve, fund raise, implement, evaluate impact and sustainability, and budget,” Gadegbeku said. “Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, has already opened many doors for me.”

Due to her commitment to education, she’s traveled to different places and shared her vision on diverse platforms. Gadegbeku has been to Washington, D.C., where she met with civil rights figure Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).  She’s also given a speech on Capitol Hill about earning the prestigious Gold Award.

Gadegbeku’s objective is in line with that of many organizations and influential personalities who agree that the gender gap in STEM courses needs to be bridged by encouraging more girls to pursue careers in these fields.

The U.S. Department of Commerce released a report in 2011 that showed that the ratio of female to male engineers is 1:6 and that there hasn’t been any growth in STEM jobs for women since the turn of the millennium.

Gadegbeku is currently listed among the 2015 Young Futurists on The Root.

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