SAGE camp at SLAC seeks to broaden gender diversity in STEM

by Contributed Content on July 27, 2023

SAGE camp is a summer camp with the mission to broaden gender diversity in STEM and foster the creativity and innovation needed for scientific and technological leadership. At SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, this year’s camp (July 23-29) is hosting 40 students from Northern and Central California high schools, offering them a unique experience and an introduction to the many STEM career opportunities available at SLAC. 

First offered in 2018, the program is finishing up its sixth year of camp. Originally only located at SLAC in Menlo Park, the camp has now expanded to five other of the 17 Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories across the United States, including Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore labs in the East Bay. What began as a camp for 20 girls and gender minorities located in Northern and Central California now supports over 700 students. 

During the week they will be shadowing scientists and engineers at SLAC, participating in hands-on science projects and having lunch with lab management. All of this comes in pursuit of sparking a deeper curiosity and interest in STEM and giving them the confidence and knowledge to pursue a career in the field. 

The students are encouraged to continue their own learning back at school, whether it be by starting their own SAGE clubs at their high schools, having the confidence to face an academic challenge, or even just recognizing that they will improve in anything they put their mind to.

SAGE emphasizes the concept of having a growth mindset in everyday lives, taking risks and gaining wisdom from all experiences — both successes and failures. 

You can read the stories of three SAGE alumni who were inspired by the program online in Symmetry magazine. 

The camp is a key component of an even larger program, called the SAGE Journey. After the camp, students join an ever-growing (SAGE) community of peers and alumni, as well as DOE scientists, engineers, and staff who volunteer their time to the program. The SAGE Journey lays out a path for career development: internships, early career resources and jobs and leadership opportunities. Ongoing engagement through monthly online events, networking opportunities as well as professional development resources are available.

The internship aspect debuted in 2022 and offers summer internships at SLAC and Los Alamos National Laboratories. With a mission to expand to even more laboratories across America, SAGE is hoping to reach girls and gender minorities from all across the country and empower them to explore the multiple career possibilities in National Laboratories. 

Photos by Jaqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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