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"Green Girls Empowered By ING" teaches young women in NYC how to protect the environment

"Green Girls" in Harlem aim to break the gender gap in STEM 02:01

NEW YORK -- An inspiring group of girls and young women in Harlem is breaking the gender gap in science and engineering and learning how to protect the environment.

On one spring day, the teenage girls turned a Harlem park into their own science lab. They used dirt, grass and sticks to create a functional water filter.

Eleven-year-old Sophie Ba calls her experiment a success.

"I think that's really essential 'cause like, let's say I was stuck somewhere and the water was really polluted, I could use it to make cleaner water," she said.

The program is called "Green Girls Empowered By ING," created by the City Parks Foundation. The young women meet weekly for hands-on lessons about the environment and how to protect it.

For these city-dwellers, it's also an opportunity to search for climate solutions in nature.

"I think it's important because we can have, like, clean air, clean water, save some of the plants, because some of plants provide us with what we need, like crops and stuff," said Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School student Jayla Polite.

Women make up less than 28% of science, tech, engineering and math jobs. Program manager Mayra Sanchez says with the right encouragement, that could change.

 "There's already a lot of stigma against young women in school being able to answer questions, voicing their concerns about something and just getting the ability to speak," she said. "It allows them to build their voice, be surrounded by other young women their age but also be able to facilitate that ability to be inquisitive."

For the last 20 years, the program has been growing in New York City. Now, they're sharing what they've learned and how to teach it with educators across the country.

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