‘By the age of 6, young girls are less likely than boys to view their gender as brilliant,” according to a study in the journal, Science, published by Princeton University and New York University researchers. It is this mentality and lack of confidence that keep women from taking entrepreneurial risks and result in a significant gender gap within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

According to a 2012 report from the US Census Bureau, just 36% of privately owned businesses are women owned – and these are smaller, less profitable, and more short-lived than their male counterparts. The gender gap also persists for women in STEM fields. According to a 2016 NSF report, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce and even lower when you break out engineering (15%) and computer science and mathematics (25%).

“As leaders in educating girls, at Stuart we know we can absolutely impact the gender gaps. We know it’s crucial to educate girls from a young age to know that they are powerful, they can affect change, and their voices are equally important.” says Dr. Patty Fagin, head of school at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, the independent girls’ day school in Princeton.

Stuart is once again taking the lead by inspiring girls to pursue fields to close that gender gap. On April 8, the school will host #LEADLIKEGIRL, a conference designed to showcase and inspire girls’ confidence, creativity, and leadership in STEM and entrepreneurship. #LEADLIKEAGIRL will feature two notable speakers. Dr. Ellen Stofan, who left her post in December as chief scientist at NASA, serving as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments, and Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, the award-winning children’s multimedia company challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. #LEADLIKEAGIRL will be held on the Stuart campus and is free to girls in grades K-12 and their parents.

The conference is presented by the Stuart Center for Girls’ Leadership. Established in 2015 to support and empower the next generation of female leaders, the Center serves as a resource to parents, students and educators throughout the world.

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in two leadership tracks: Entrepreneurship and STEM. Sessions will include the keynote speakers, a Business Fair and Expo, STEM Talks, workshops and expert panel discussions. Young women in high school, educators and women entrepreneurs from all over the East Coast, and as far as California, are participating as presenters at the STEM Talks, workshops and exhibit at the Business Fair and Expo. Additional information can be found on the conference website at www.stuartschool.org/leadlikeagirl.

“As the only all-girls school in Princeton, Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart is uniquely positioned to provide an environment where girls put academics first, are willing and able to take risks, and explore every opportunity,” says Fagin. “Our outstanding academics and inspiring faculty take advantage of the way girls learn in the STEM fields as well as the arts, humanities, and athletics. We are thrilled to be giving young women and mentors a forum to share their work, ideas, and experiences.” The innovative #LEADLIKEAGIRL Conference is but one more example of the school’s commitment to inspire young women leaders.

Stuart Country Day School, 1200 Stuart Road, Princeton. www.stuartschool.org/leadlikeagirl. 609-921-6104.

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