FINS: Supporting Girls in STEM

F.I.N.S. provides girls with hands-on experience in women-led marine science as volunteers with SRC.

The Females in Natural Sciences (F.I.N.S.) initiative, created by former SRC Intern and Fulbright Scholar Julia Whidden, was designed, developed, and implemented by women for girls. Its goal is to provide middle and high school girls with an exciting hands-on experience in marine science as shark research volunteers under the mentorship of female University of Miami faculty and students. During the day-long shark tagging expedition, participants are able to experience research in action and have the opportunity to engage with a women-led research team at various stages of their scientific careers, creating “near peer” mentorship opportunities.  The F.I.N.S. experience is interactive, empowering, and rewarding, allowing girls to work with inspiring women role models.

Trip Details:

  • Girls participate in a day-long, official UMiami shark research alongside a crew of women scientists
  • Assist in the collection of samples, including taking a fin clip, tagging the shark, taking length measurements. Want to see what you’ll be doing? Check out our F.I.N.S. photos, and like our FINS Facebook albums and Instagram!
  • At this time, we are able to accommodate groups of up to 20 girls. If your group is interested in participating in the FINS program, please fill out our contact form.
  • AGE LIMIT: It is recommended that participants are between 10 and 18 years of age

According to the National Science Foundation, women are an underrepresented group in science representing only 25% of all of those working in STEM careers and only 11% of engineering jobs – despite composing 50% of the workforce.

Previous studies have revealed that girls presented with primarily male examples of scientists and engineers are less likely to think they could be successful in STEM careers, which is why the FINS initiative is run by women faculty, graduate students, and staff. This initiative is intended to inspire more women in STEM fields by providing girls with exciting and informal science experiences free of grades or evaluation, where they can seek inspiration and mentorship from relatable women at many stages of their scientific careers.

1. To address the gender disparity in STEM fields and encourage girls to stay engaged in the sciences;
2. To provide an exciting opportunity for children and youth to engage with nature;
3. To stimulate public interest in our oceans, particularly in the next generation.

The FINS initiative is an extension of the SRC’s successful community outreach programs, which provide more than 1,000 people from the public, mostly school children, with opportunities to participate in scientific research. We are grateful to Julia Whidden, former SRC Fulbright visiting scholar, who helped establish the FINS initiative, and to former graduate student Gaitlyn Malone who supported the initiative’s growth in recent years. FINS would not be possible without the generosity of our donors and all the incredible women who have served as FINS mentors and role models.

Today’s students are the scientists and conservationists of tomorrow, and we need our nation’s girls to be part of the next generation’s innovators.