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Perry Initiative Encourages Girls to Look into Orthopedics, Engineering

Posted at: 01/19/2013 10:39 PM
Updated at: 01/19/2013 10:44 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly 30 girls from 18 different high schools were at Mayo Clinic today learning about engineering and orthopedics.  The Perry Initiative, a non-profit organization, held a one day program encouraging the young women to enter those fields.

Sofia Alston and Miriam Mohamed are Juniors at Mayo High School. They’ve been best friends since they were nine, but when it comes to working in engineering or orthopedics, they differ.

"I didn't really think about like the engineering or the ortho part. I was more like nursing. I thought that was more safer ya know,” said Alston.

"I really want to be in real-estate actually I didn't think of anything in the medical field I thought that would be too hard,” said Mohamed.

But the Perry Initiative is working to change their minds. The non-profit group put the girls in scrubs, handed them needles and drills and put them to work fixing broken bones and stitching wounds.

"We target women for engineering and orthopedic surgery because there aren't enough of us in those fields,” said Dr. Mary O’Connor, a board member for the Perry Initiative and Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.

According to the organization, women make up just 7% of practicing orthopedists.

"They're such great fields for women and so we want women to understand that orthopedics and engineering are great professions very rewarding and a lot of fun and that they can do it,” said O’Connor.

Through stimulation and discussions, the young women learning they can.

"I actually really like the spinal cord. You're doing stuff to help fix it. And I like messed up on the first one but I learned from all the mistakes I learned on it. And on my second one, I didn't make any mistakes,” said Mohamed.

And for best friends Sofia and Miriam, scrubs could be something their future has in common.

"It's interesting,” said Alston.  

“I'm actually considering engineering now,” added Mohamed.

The Perry Initiative holds programs across the country, including at three Mayo Clinic locations.