Posts Tagged ‘National Girls Collaborative Project’

In today’s society, in which young people are consumed by social media and look up to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as role models, it is easy to assume that youths do not want to listen to what you have to say. However, I have found this to be quite contrary to the truth.

Each summer, my peers and I host local youths on the University of Alabama, Huntsville, campus to generate interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by conducting labs and discussion panels about attending college and the benefits of pursuing advanced degrees. The first summer I participated, there was one student who seemed disinterested. During the activities, she made jokes, refused to comment on her goals, and at one point broke out in an inappropriate dance. Once we got over the shock, my  peers and I pulled her aside and advised her that her behaviors were inappropriate. I began to think, What is the point in what we are doing? Maybe students really prefer to listen to someone who has a reality show?

The following summer, the same student returned with a totally different attitude. She actively engaged in sharing her dreams. She privately revealed to me that my peers and I had impacted her life by addressing her behavior and shared that she was motivated to pursue STEM studies. I found pure joy in learning this. I realized that for some young people, celebrities and reality stars are their role models not by choice but because no one has taken the time to be a mentor to them. I share this to demonstrate that not all young people are tuning you out, so please don’t disregard the need for mentoring and educational outreach programs such as the National Girls Collaborative Project. Often youth are waiting for a mentor. Be a mentor; I promise you will see a return on your time investment.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Joy Marie Agee.

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After months of planning, the Indiana Girls Collaborative Project overcame numerous obstacles — such as having a limited number of volunteers, locating a venue, and obtaining commitments from relevant speakers — to hold its annual conference on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, on September 22.

As the AAUW liaison, I was able to appreciate how the spirit of collaboration prevailed, enabling the Indiana Leadership Team and Champions Board to hold its third statewide conference. Being a part of this effort demonstrated to me that collaboration around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has the potential for bringing together an array of individuals who may have never met or imagined new ways of working together.

The net was cast widely across Indiana and brought together formal and informal educators from middle and high schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit directors and staff, and foundation, government, and business leaders. Planners, presenters, and attendees (a total of 78) participated as listeners and contributors during a full day of sessions focused on gender equity, closing the education gap, STEM programs and projects serving girls, funding, resources, and reaching underserved girls.

The conference was an intense seminar filled with lots of new, interesting, and exciting information. I observed the audience becoming more engaged after hearing the multiple speakers and panel presentations that generated comments, questions, and brainstorming ideas from the interactions and connections made. There was definitely a buzz in the room that continued throughout the day, including during the speed-networking activity I facilitated. Each pair of participants introduced themselves, their projects, and their needed resources then switched and moved on, forming a new conversation. Each person gave her best two-to-three minute elevator speech and collected business cards from potential future collaborators. In the midst of this, I heard someone call out to the crowd that they had made a collaboration on the spot! This was a perfect motivator to encourage the group to pursue new conversations.

The best part of the day was meeting local university student volunteers — young women who have ventured into the STEM fields and expressed their excitement for the careers they will be entering. I was moved by a Latina senior whose family emigrated from Honduras when she was in elementary school. She is majoring in chemical engineering and spoke positively about her father’s support and her college experiences and internships. Many other student volunteers engaged in informal conversations and answered our questions about how they chose their particular STEM majors. We heard stories about how they were supported or mentored by parents and teachers and what a difference it has made for their future prospects. The young college students exuded confidence, poise, determination, and excitement to soon graduate.

I heard some inspiring stories and learned about numerous STEM resources and organizations that are available for Indiana girls and young women. This conference helped me realize the importance of pursuing the hard work of collaboration as a means to increasing STEM equity and confirmed my resolve to continue making my personal contribution to this effort.

This post was written by AAUW STEM Liaison Geraldine L. Oberman, Ph.D.

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Day in and day out, AAUW members cultivate girls’ achievement and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. The message: Yes, you can have this kind of fulfilling, exciting, and often lucrative career. It’s not just for boys.

At the recent Mid-Atlantic Girls Collaborative (MAGiC) Annual Conference on September 24, AAUW members Laura Jones and Linda Martin joined more than 45 fellow grassroots advocates at the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, Virginia, to brainstorm, share ideas and effective strategies, and make connections. Nine grassroots groups (from Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia) funded by MAGiC mini-grants showcased their work. Advocates and educators led roundtables on fundraising, volunteer engagement, program evaluation, cool activity ideas, and engaging school systems. The collaboration that happens during these conferences is key to finding resources and partners in the local community.

As teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools, Jones and Martin have always had a passion for helping kids learn. And when Jones’ daughter said she was having trouble with math 17 years ago, Jones wanted to create a special place for her daughter to grow and develop.

So Jones started a grassroots initiative, the GEMS club (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) for elementary school girls. The effort has grown to 16 clubs across the school system. Recently, the effort has gained new funding sources from local corporations and has received national recognition from the Clinton Global Initiative. Jones shares the formula for creating a GEMS club at your local school at www.gemsclub.org. Also on the site are research materials, activities, and information on how to host a daylong GEMS conference where girls can participate in hands-on workshops.

Thanks to their work and years of collaboration — supported by AAUW and MAGiC — the GEMS club participants build and launch rockets, take field trips to the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall, and meet women in STEM careers who serve as role models who demonstrate that yes, you can have this kind of career.

The MAGiC conference showed how many people are active with their own projects around girls in STEM and how many support the type of effort Jones and Martin are spearheading in their community. There is nothing more powerful than a room full of women and men who are passionate about carrying the message to girls: Yes, you can be a computer scientist, physicist, or engineer.

MAGiC is a growing network led by the Women in Engineering program at the University of Maryland. To join a local network, visit the National Girls Collaborative Project website and get involved!

This post was written by AAUW NGCP Liaison Elizabeth Vandenburg.

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And thank goodness for that.

I’m a National Girls Collaborative Project member liaison, and I recently attended the Pennsylvania STEM Girls Collaborative Conference. I was browsing around the showcase of projects, and as you would expect, there were some representatives from terrific programs designed to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers for girls. But who really blew me away was a young middle school girl in attendance named Calista.

When I was in middle school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I was not alone. I circuitously navigated my way through college and ended up in a STEM career that I loved.

What is different today is these girls know, they really know, what they want to do. They are turned on to STEM early, they like it, and they pursue it.

Take Calista, for example. She is a student at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and is all of 14 years old. She has already created and taught a program to encourage interest in STEM; developed a program called Origami Salami, which models protein-folding science (present in RNA, DNA, air, the gastrointestinal tract, and the brain); spun off a community service from Origami Salami called Folding for Good, which uses community events to explore the fun of STEM; wrote an engineering course for middle schoolers called Investigation: Paper Engineering, which was published by Lincoln Interactive and launched as a digital mini-course offering in June 2011; and in her spare time, she maintains her Origami Salami website, Facebook page, and blog.

Calista said that her interest in STEM was sparked after attending a Summer Engineering Experience for Girls at Carnegie Mellon University. She explains, “After SEE I got to thinking deeply about my own career options and what would be needed to position myself for a future in science.” This was when she was 12 years old!

Calista explains that her mission with Origami Salami “is to inspire learners to think outside the box about STEM subjects by studying folding.” And that through folding, “students would be inspired to investigate all sorts of science possibilities and become more innovative thinkers, the kind of problem identifiers and thinkers we need in science.” Wow, girls aren’t who they used to be.

I know without question that AAUW has had something to do with this, and that makes me proud of our organization and our work. Calista’s parents have provided a wonderful environment for their daughter so she has the confidence and wherewithal to go after what she wants. AAUW has created opportunities and removed roadblocks so that young women like Calista think nothing of pursuing their dreams no matter where they lead — science, business, politics, or something in between. We are not finished yet, but we should take a moment to celebrate successes like Calista’s.

If you’d like to know more about what AAUW is doing with STEM, “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @AAUWSTEM!

This blog post was written by AAUW Director-at-Large and NGCP Regional Liaison Dot McLane.

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Each month this year, AAUW is teaming up with Nature Publishing Group, one of the world’s leading science publishers, to put together an online forum on women in science. The AAUW posts highlight findings from our 2010 research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, now in its third printing.

Perhaps the most interesting finding from sociologist Shelley Correll’s study (introduced in yesterday’s post) is that when men and women were told that men were better at a fictitious skill, women and men held different standards for what constituted high ability at that skill.

In the group that was told that men were more likely to have “contrast sensitivity ability,” women believed they had to earn a score of at least 89 percent to be successful, but men felt that a minimum score of 79 percent was sufficient to be successful — a difference of 10 percentage points!

In the group that was told that there were no gender differences in “contrast sensitivity ability,” women and men had much more similar ideas about how high their scores would have to be to think that they were good at the task: Women said they would need to score 82 percent, while men said they would need to score 83 percent.

This finding suggests that women hold themselves to a higher standard than their male peers do in “masculine” fields like science and engineering. The result is that fewer women than men of equal ability assess themselves as being good at math and science and aspire to science and engineering careers.

Does this research ring true to you? Have you noticed that women tend to believe that they must be exceptional to be successful in science?

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This is my fourth year working on AAUW’s college-based national leadership programs, and I’m excited to announce that it’s that time of year again. Applications are now available for three of our great programs. Each program offers a chance for college students and campus faculty to make a difference on their campuses, in their communities, and at the national level.

Elect Her–Campus Women Win

Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a collaboration between AAUW and Running Start, encourages and trains young women to run for student government on their campuses. Any student, AAUW member, or campus faculty or staff member can apply on behalf of a campus to host the program during the 2012 spring semester.

Duke University was a 2010–11 Elect Her site.

Visit the Elect Her web page to access the application and more information about the program. Applications are due September 30, and selections will be announced by October 7. AAUW college/university partner members receive preference.

National Student Advisory Council

“Being a member of the SAC helped me grow as a student leader on my college campus and gain valuable networking experience. Additionally, AAUW has helped me grow in my role as an advocate while expanding my idea of what it means to truly break through barriers for women and girls!” — Cat Cleary (left), 2010–11 SAC member

College students nationwide can apply to serve on the AAUW National Student Advisory Council for the 2011–12 academic year. The 10 selected SAC members will travel to Washington, D.C., in October for a retreat and then again in June for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. They will have the unique opportunity to advise a national women’s group, hone their leadership skills, and network with student leaders and distinguished women.

Visit the SAC page to access the application, instructions, and information about qualifications. Applications are due September 30, and the new SAC will be announced by October 7. Students at AAUW college/university partner member institutions receive preference.

AAUW Campus Action Projects

This year’s Campus Action Project grant program focuses on the issues raised by AAUW’s November 2011 research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in Schools. Through CAP, teams of student leaders and campus faculty nationwide may apply for up to $5,000 to design and implement programs using recommendations from the report.

AAUW will fund 10 projects during the spring semester. Teams then have the opportunity to share their experiences during the June 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

A 2010–11 CAP team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Visit the CAP web page to download the application and instructions. Applications are due October 21. The chosen teams will be notified in early December. AAUW college/university partner members receive preference.

I hope you will apply for and spread the word about these amazing opportunities. Also, be sure to check out some of the other campus-based programs AAUW offers.

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As a part of AAUW’s ongoing commitment to improving the status of women and girls globally via fellowships, grassroots programming, and advocacy, AAUW recently hosted 18 women from the All-China Women’s Federation. The Federation was established in 1949 by the Chinese government and has become the largest women’s nongovernmental organization in that country. It represents and protects the rights and welfare of women and promotes equality between men and women. The visit was sponsored by the U.S.-China Exchange Council, an education and service organization dedicated to professional exchange programs between the United States and China.

The delegation consisted of 18 Women’s Federation executive officials from multiple provinces of China, including Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Yangzhou, and Guangdong; a representative from the Tibet Women’s Association; the People’s Bank of China; and several state ministries. The group was very interested in meeting with AAUW to exchange experiences and views on advancing educational and professional opportunities for women in both countries.

AAUW staff shared information about our programs, membership, and research to break through barriers for women and girls. The visitors were particularly interested in learning about the administration and management of AAUW (including media relations, membership, leadership, and staff jobs). They were surprised to learn that government funding is not a major revenue source and that AAUW members raise funds to support the organization. “But isn’t the government obligated to support these issues?” one participant asked. There were many questions about our International Fellowships, and the women were pleased to learn that AAUW is funding five fellows from China during the 2011–12 academic year and that we have supported more than 100 individuals from China since the fellowship program began in 1917. Staff spoke about our global connections, our recent international delegations abroad, and our upcoming trip to South Africa this fall.

We discussed the gender stereotyping common in both the United States and China — a dominance of women in the arts and social sciences and fewer female scientists and engineers. Similar to the United States, high school girls in China have better grades in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but it is strongly “hinted” that they should consider the social sciences. We could relate to their revelation that women scientists lack funding to pursue research and professional opportunities and that they often suspend their careers after pregnancy; they then experience great difficulty in “catching up.”

The visit ended with a flurry of photos and gift-giving. We stood together for photos, and we shared many thanks, language being no barrier for gratitude. There was mutual admiration for the visit. They thanked us for hosting them, and we were honored to connect with women from across the globe but not so different from us. They care about what so many women care about: education, economic security, the ability to support and nurture our families, and being valued for our contributions to society.

We all smiled as the cameras flashed, happy to create a memory of a common bond we share with all women.

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CBS News turned to AAUW member Marie Wolbach, founder of AAUW of California’s Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls, for an insider’s perspective on getting girls engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This is an important topic that has been in the news again recently since three girls won the Google Science Fair.

Marie Wolbach, AAUW member since 1976 and NGCP liaison since 2005, appears in a CBS News segment on Tech Trek and girls in STEM.

Tech Trek got its start 13 years ago when Wolbach applied for a Community Action Grant from AAUW to open a science camp for girls on the Stanford University campus in the summer of 1998. Now Tech Trek camps are hosted on a number of campuses throughout the state and are regularly attended by over 800 girls a year.

The girls who attend the camps are each nominated by a math or science teacher and come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting California’s demographics. Many of them come from homes where English is not the primary language and have parents who did not attend college. The girls live on a college campus for a week and get a taste of what it is like to be a student and the excitement of pursuing a dream. They not only get a chance to perform hands-on experiments, they also work with girls from previous camps who come back as counselors and meet real-life female role models in STEM fields, many of them former campers and great examples of what a girl can do when she is given the right tools.

CBS contacted Wolbach and went to film parts of the segment at the Tech Trek camps at the University of California, Irvine, and Stanford. With all her experience, institutional knowledge, and involvement, Wolbach was a fantastic representative to interview, and her comments were included in the final segment that aired on the CBS Evening News.

AAUW members are doing amazing things, and it was phenomenal to have such a spotlight shone on Tech Trek and Wolbach’s story. Wolbach and her fellow volunteers celebrated additional good news this year when Tech Trek was honored as a finalist for the Breaking through Barriers Awards, which were announced at the 2011 AAUW National Convention.

AAUW supports opportunities for women and girls in STEM fields in many ways. Our most recent research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, continues to make the news, and in an effort to support local programming around girls in STEM, AAUW has been a partner in the National Girls Collaborative Project for the last five years.

The NGCP website has a searchable program directory with more than 2,200 different programs for girls in math and science run by various organizations, companies, and school systems, including over 80 programs from AAUW members and branches. These are only some ways that AAUW is promoting STEM — find us on Facebook and Twitter under AAUW STEM and make sure to tell us about STEM programs in your area.

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Image by Rachel Fortner, Graves County High School, 12th GradeLearning about electricity while developing leadership skills, self-confidence, efficacy and content knowledge were goals of the Meadowthorpe is Serving Sisters (MISS ) mentoring program. MISS Electricity was one of the mini-grant programs members heard about at the recent AAUW Kentucky Convention. Members were given presentations by the recent National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) mini-grant winners in their home state.

On April 29, at the Kentucky State Police Central Laboratory, Kentucky members gathered and learned about the grant programs and the accomplishments of the girls who were a part of them. Poster boards brought by grant administrators provided visual impact for those in attendance.

The MISS Electricity program gave girls Snap Circuit, Jr. educational kits and had them learn from university faculty. The presentation showcased not only what the fifth grade girls learned, but how they took the information to the fourth graders in their school and taught them valuable lessons about electricity. Watching the presentation, Kentucky member and AAUW NGCP Liaison Ellen Nolan thought to herself, “I wish I had an opportunity like that when I was young!”

The “Wonders of Water” camp was also featured, which brought girls to a local pond where they watched aquatic life hatch and grow and used real testing kits to measure aeration and pollution. Scientists helped the girls understand the results of the testing and identify the aquatic life. There was a second grant given out that focused on water safety and quality, “Wolf Run Water Watch” had girls examine two streams that have been marked as polluted by the state water agency. Female scientists helped lead the girls on field expeditions and discussed their careers and how they positively impact the community. The grantee reported that the girls were extremely engaged in the activity and many commented that they had never done anything like it before.

Kentucky members were able to see how these programs directly affected the girls in their communities and how the grant from NGCP allowed for the purchase of equipment that would not have been accessible otherwise. These types of programs are allowing girls to be exposed to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and bringing these careers to life! These projects were great opportunities for girls to see how working in a STEM field can allow them to help their community and have careers where they learn something new every day.

Learn more about AAUW and NGCP visiting our website, Facebook page or following us on Twitter @AAUWSTEM

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In January, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) stakeholders from across the state of Texas converged to share research and best practices in STEM education, career and college preparation, and outreach at the Bridging Research and Practice conference in Austin, Texas.

Why was this event important for Texas? Because, so far, this has been the only confluence of these previously isolated groups. Traditionally, K–12 STEM educators, universities, business interests, and informal educators work in disconnected pockets. This conference brought all these groups together to share and understand their points of intersection and how each can be leveraged for the good of all.

The University of Texas, Tyler. Ingenuity Center; Girlstart; the Texas Girls Collaborative Project; the University of Texas, Austin, Women in Engineering Program; UTeachEngineering; the Austin Children’s Museum; Techbridge; and the Texas High School Project were just a few of the entities that gathered to better serve the vision of STEM as a national and state priority.

AAUW played a vital role in how this conference came to be. Work with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP)created and fostered collaborations, and my logistical work as a liaison and AAUW’s resources were the linchpin of the interwoven alliances at the conference. Making sure the kids had a great time and learned a lot was part of my job.

There was a poster session for kids to display their science projects, and they could take workshops such as Release the Power of the Sun, the Viscosity of Motor Oil, the Intelligent Mailbox, and Biofuel. The conference was a success; over 370 attendees and many Texas children walked away thinking about STEM.

Many breakout sessions focused on how critical women’s participation is in the educational and professional arenas of STEM fields. The conference marked the activation of a widespread effort to educate Texas stakeholders on the issue of STEM gender equity. The conference also featured a luncheon keynote by Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and co-author of Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Many attendees expressed appreciation for this long-overdue enterprise. Bringing everyone to the table in Texas and making significant strides toward the awareness of gender equity issues within the STEM education community would not have been possible without the efforts of AAUW. Our work toward encouraging STEM education has enabled critical local events like this one to happen, and our work (along with several partners) in building NGCP has been a national effort.

To find out more about AAUW’s STEM efforts and to access resources to get kids interested in STEM at home and in your community, visit www.aauw.org/ngcp.

This post was written by National Girls Collaborative Project Liaison Kristian Trampus.

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