Project Scientist Aims to Reduce STEM Gender Gap

Over 40 girls arrived at Duke Energy's Innovation Center Wednesday afternoon to get a taste of a career in STEM.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Duke Energy’s Innovation Center was surging with girl power Wednesday afternoon.

Their futures as bright as their smiles, over 40 girls were here for Project Scientist, an after-school program aimed at inspiring the next generation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – known as STEM.

“They have the opportunity to go behind the scenes to see women in STEM careers, to see businesses in their community, and to learn about how they have a place in STEM,” Project Scientist Program Manager Jacki Lane tells us. “We want them to know that they have a seat at the table.”

Despite making up half the workforce, women are severely underrepresented in scientific fields – only 27% of all STEM jobs are held by women. Project Scientist is aiming to change that – and Duke Energy is happy to help.

“It makes me so excited,” says Madison McDonald of Duke Energy. “Their energy and their passion for STEM is just – I haven’t seen it before. I can just see them here one day, being our next Duke Energy leaders.”

It’s making moms like Chetana Prasad proud of their daughters, too.

“The other day, she came back home after one of the Project Scientist sessions and she said, ‘I want to be a microbiologist,'” Prasad quips. “I’ll tell you, for a first grader to even know what – or who – a microbiologist is, I think that’s a winner for me already.”

Whether the girls end up going into STEM or not, just getting them exposure to these fields are half the battle. Breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes, these trailblazing girls are showing us… the future is female.

“Yeah, I feel like girls can do anything and be anything they want, because nothing has a gender,” attendee Casper Walker exclaims. “Everything is just what you want to do.”

For more information on how to enroll in Project Scientist, visit