Science Program For Young Women Of Color Aims To Break Glass Ceiling

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — At the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, girls are equally welcomed. But that’s not always how it is in the rest of the world.

“Even on the TV shows you don’t see women in a science room,” said NexGeneGirls science fellow Jashonna Jordan-Davis. “Like, you always see the men.”

But in the science room for NexGeneGirls, you’ll see nothing but women. The program was founded by molecular biologist Marlena Jackson.

Six young women from San Francisco’s Mission and Bayview Districts are trying to break the glass ceiling in scientific research.

“If you never saw anyone that looked like you doing science, how can you see yourself doing it?” asked Jackson.

On Monday, high school students were teaching younger girls how to use an electrical charge to identify the food colors in Skittles.

But when the gel never hardens and the effort fails, Jackson uses it to teach another lesson about science.

“It’s about experimentation, right? And if it doesn’t work, we have an opportunity to do it over,” explained Jackson.

On Tuesday, the inner-city girls participating in the program will begin serious hands-on internships at research centers around the Bay Area.

Trinity Boykin was selected to help study heart development in human embryos at the Gladstone Institute.

“It was really overwhelming. I’m like whoa!  This is a lot…like this is real science,” said Boykin.

It will give them each a huge leg up on their careers and by teaching others, it opens a door for even more bright young women, like six-year-old Angelina Olive who’s smart enough to know there’s plenty of opportunity to go around.

When asked if girls would make better scientists than boys, Olive replied, “I think everybody is a good scientist.”

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