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Milestone for WINS

WINS Ladies with Betsy Payne

June 25, 2012

2012 marks a milestone in the Academy’s acclaimed Women In Natural Sciences program.

It was 30 years ago that the Academy began offering free summer science classes to Philadelphia public high school girls from low-income, single-parent, minority families. The goal was to nurture their interest in science with the hope they would continue on to higher education and careers in the sciences, at a time when opportunities for women in those positions were woefully few.

Three decades later, women still are underrepresented in the sciences, but WINS has grown and expanded into a successful, grant-funded, national model . WINS I, which starts the summer after eighth grade, and WINS II, who those who complete WINS I,has introduced hundreds of high school girls to future careers in science and other professions by providing hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration, and positive youth development.

Since 1982, 700 girls from all over Philadelphia have participated in the program. All of those who stayed in the program all four years of high school went on to graduate, and 96 percent of the graduates continued on to a college or university. Sixty percent have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering or math.

WINS Manager Betsy Payne is proud of the program’s success, but knows there is more to do.  “There are obviously more women in the sciences today, but the numbers have not skyrocketed,” Payne said. “More women are getting a bachelor’s degree in the sciences, but as it goes up in higher education there are fewer and fewer women. Women in the sciences are still a small minority and minority women with doctorates is extremely small.”

So what’s ahead in the next 30 years for WINS?

“We will grow and evolve to offer the girls more long-term opportunities in the sciences,” Payne said. “Right now more internships opportunities and more job offers for those graduating would be nice.”

Watch the WINS Video

Watch this 4-minute video to see what the Women In Natural Sciences’ participants and graduates have to say about their experiences.