RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A hundred middle school girls in Wake County got to spend Thursday learning about careers in STEM.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Jobs in that industry have typically been filled by a disproportionate percentage of men.
"I think that outreach is super important because like I said, some of my higher engineering classes, there was a huge inequity in how many females there were," NC State alum and NCDOT Civil Engineer Janaki Patel said. "So my experience from school, college even while working -- I would like to see more female engineers in the industry for representation and just that they bring a lot of good ideas and designs to the table."
While women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, only 27 percent of jobs in STEM fields are filled by women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The American Heart Association sponsored an event Thursday to give young female students a chance to take an inside look at jobs across STEM fields. STEM Go Red gave the students firsthand experience with the possible jobs and connected them to inspiring professionals already doing the work.
"We just want girls to know about STEM and also the mission of the American Heart Association. It's all tied in. We want girls to go into research and medicine and really any STEM career of their choice and be that next generation of leaders in our community because we need more girls in STEM," Go Red for Women Development Director Sangeetha Menon said.
The goal was to introduce the young students to a new world of careers that they may have never considered before.
"They showed us that we're not alone and we can try again, and it's OK to mess up," 8th-grade student at Dillard Drive Magnet Middle School Ailyne Aguilar said.
Aguilar was one of the students at the event.
"I've really gotten into marine biology. I don't know about it. It's like, I really love the ocean and I love sea animals. So that's really inspired me," she said.