Thank you to ABC 7 and reporter Ross DiMattei for telling our story and raising awareness of the need to encourage girls in STEM!
Story originally aired on ABC 7 June 20, 2017. Visit ABC 7 to watch the video.
Kristi Grigsby used to write stories for her daughters when they were growing up in Naples. After taking a break from her books, she was recently inspired to pick up the pen again after reading reports about little girls falling behind in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and math.
"There is nothing available to introduce STEM fields in a way that's exciting and fun to girls at this age," Grigsby said.
Recent reports show women are lagging behind men in the fields of math and science. Kristi Grigsby says the problem starts at an early age.
"STEM resources for girls are not readily available until they get to school," she said. "High schools are doing a better job of introducing these fields. Middle schools are starting to introduce these, but when you look at the research and it shows the girls at the age of six are already doubting their intelligence at times, middle school is too late."
Now, Grigsby is preparing to publish her three children's stories, all about young girls interested in a career in STEM.
"So we have 'Sophie and the Airplane' which focuses on the aerospace industry. We have 'Zelda the Curious,' which is focused on engineering. And we have 'Chelsea Discovers Chemistry,' which of course is chemistry and the sciences."
The books will also feature interviews with real women who have been successful in STEM fields over the course of their careers.
"Parents often times don't know the possibilities, so that's why we interview real women in STEM and put those interviews out there," she said. "They know that these fields are exciting and the future and they want, more than anyone, to see young girls take an interest in this and learn from their experiences. Women in the sciences are discovering cures for terrible diseases. Women in aerospace are dreaming of flying to the moon."
Sarah Kuba is the young illustrator bringing Grigsby's character, Sophie, to life.
"The character's name is Sophie, and I was interested in the book because when I was young, I remember when I went on the airplane for the first time, it was an exciting experience, and it was just magical," Kuba said. "I wanted to kind of make her look like a pilot so I gave her those aviator goggles, and she just has a very big and bright and bold personality, so I gave her very bright warm colors to make her look inviting. I think the young girls will catch on with her after seeing how bright and happy and confident she is she's not afraid to ask questions and she's very excited."
Picture books about young girls chasing their dreams is something many moms can get behind.
"When you have a child who is so interested in something that so needed in this world and knowing that they're gonna be taking care of us when we're old and I want my child to be part of it being a benefit and not a hindrance," said Nancy Jeffers.
"My hope is that these books can ignite excitement in little girls and that they will see the possibilities and see that curiosity and their creativity can lead to really exciting things and that they are not afraid to dream," Grigsby said.
Kristi Grigsby is publishing these books on her own. She doesn't have a set publishing date yet, but she hopes they will be available on Amazon by the end of the summer. They're aimed at kids ages 3 through 8.