GAINS – Girls Achieving In Non-Traditional Subjects – Silicon Valley

Tonight was the end of the year celebration of the GAINS Program. Juliana was one of many students who was asked to share her thoughts on the importance of the program and I was happy to see her standing on stage, sharing her ideas. She is so lucky to have this program available to her and to have the opportunity to explore careers and to network with women that are paving the way in STEM related fields.
There was a female, Indian speaker from Symantec who was a Quality Engineer. She shared the importance of her job to building quality products and talked about how she goes about doing her work to make a difference. You could tell that you loved her job and was proud of her success and she wanted to share this with the GAINS Girls. I loved hearing her passion and about her kids and how she loves what she does. She was very encouraging to the girls and shared stories about equal pay, and hiring young, energetic and enthusiastic girls and that they have super powers!!
The information below is from the SCUSD website –
GAINS (Girls Achieving in Non-traditional Subjects) encourages and inspires young women to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and other non-traditional career options. 
Young women who participate in the program:
     •  gain a social network of exceptional young women
     •  gain exposure to career options and mentoring
     •  gain insight into their own potential for a STEM career
     •  gain confidence in making career-oriented education choices 
     •  gain access to resources for getting into colleges
Through an exciting social network, students have the opportunity to hear from and talk with professional women currently working in these fields. Students have fun with their friends learning about future careers, visiting colleges, attending conferences and exploring opportunities for education.

What is the program?

Every month, GAINS girls can learn from inspiring professional women and can ask them questions about their career paths. In addition, GAINS girls participate in events throughout the year including Orientation, Success Camp, College/Career Day, workshops, project-based learning, field trips to college, business and industry, and an End-of-Year Celebration (with families).
Extracurricular activities include lectures, tutoring, internships, and job shadows. 
Here is another resource to learn more about women in STEM related fields and why this program is important:
I am excited to see what Juliana decides to be when she grows up.


Have you heard of this acronym before? It stands for





Where we live in Silicon Valley, there is a push to help motivate, inspire and influence girls to find interest and passion in these subjects. When I was growing up, my dad always told me that I was going to college. It wasn’t like I had a choice, it was just a given. I was going to college. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do once I got there, but I always knew I was going.

When I got there, I decided I was going to be an elementary school teacher. That was mainly because my cousin was a teacher and I always looked up to her and admired her. So I wanted to be like her when I grew up. I was also told that being a teacher was a good profession for a woman because she could teach and then be home for her kids too and have summers off when kids were off for vacation. This was probably good advice. But I didn’t take it. I started down that route, but got bored and wanted to make more money and be financially independent and to travel and I had all these other big, idealistic dreams, not that I wouldn’t have met them being a teacher, but I wanted more. I wanted a different challenge.

I decided to change my major from Liberal Studies to something else. The something else was something I was unsure of. My dad told me I should study engineering or math. He was an engineer and taught math and so he thought these would be good fields for me. I looked into the engineering and math programs, met with the Deans of the Colleges and did some research. But I didn’t know what I would do with a Math or Engineering degree and I couldn’t envision what I would do with my degree in these fields, nor could I imagine being in class with all men and practically no women. I was intimidated and naive. Luckily I chose Business and found a successful career and met my college goals, but what if?

What if I would have had more women role models? Or what if when I went to meet with the Deans, they walked me through some career discussions or let me sit in a class and shadow the learning? Would I have made a different choice? Perhaps.

The reason why I’m writing this is because Juliana was chosen to join a program in Santa Clara that does just this. It’s called GAINS – Girls Achieving In Non-traditional Subjects. GAINS provides opportunities for young women to explore non-traditional fields, particularly those related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Students are given the opportunity to hear from and talk with female professionals currently working in these fields. Students learn more about future careers, visit colleges, attend conferences and explore many options for education. How cool is this? How lucky is she?

She is going to have even more female role models. She is going to have other stories to hear besides mine and her families. Although she has wanted to be a doctor since she was 3 years old, and most likely she will become a doctor, perhaps through GAINS she will have the chance to explore other scientific fields and be inspired by women working in technology companies like Google and Facebook, and LinkedIn. Perhaps she’ll visit a hospital and shadow an intern or doctor for a day and discover if she likes being in this type of environment. I’m hoping GAINS will create a spark and she will light the way to her own happiness and success one day, well prepared!

I am thankful for all the volunteers leading this program and offering to help mentor young women in the Bay area. I am also thankful for the sponsors that help fund this amazing program offered to now over 200 girls and growing! We are lucky to be part of such a great community. Thanks!

p.s. Out of everyone in the audience tonight at the kick off meeting, I won the raffle and received a sweatshirt and water bottle. I love winning!!