SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Fewer women are working in science and engineering fields than men.

According to a 2023 report from the National Girls Collaborative Project, women make up about 48 percent of the total workforce, but only about 34 percent of the STEM workforce.

13-year-old Charley Wynia wants to be a pediatric surgeon someday.

“I really like kids and I want to be able to help people and I just think it will make a great impact in people’s lives,” Wynia said.

Even more girls may want to take up a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math after the Women in Science event Monday.

About 800 eighth grade girls took turns visiting this hall of exhibitors at Southeast Technical College.

“Examples are admissions representatives from colleges all the way to POET to Butler Machinery,” Women in Science committee member Lisa Schramm said.

The middle schoolers also got to hear from presenters Monday.

While the students have several years to go before they graduate high school, now is good time to highlight future career options.

“This is really a way to get in front of these students before they say, ‘Oh, I can’t fly a plane,’ or ‘I can’t be a dairy producer.’ Getting them to experience that at a really young age, 11, 12, 13, years old is really impactful and it opens a lot more doors,” Schramm said.

“I think it’s really powerful that girls should be able to do the same things as guys in science and stuff. It shouldn’t always be the guys who do all the cool stuff and be smart,” Wynia said.

Students from schools across southeastern South Dakota attended the event Monday.