Posts Tagged ‘STEM’

A primate researcher, a cybersecurity specialist, the head of a wildlife clinic, and a tech CEO: If you were a fifth-grade girl in Naples, Florida, you could meet these women professionals — as well as 99 other girls who love science and math as much as you do — all in the same day. Super Savvy STEM Girls = Success is this year’s title for the 16th annual conference for girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) hosted by the AAUW Greater Naples Area (FL) Branch on February 9.

daughter STEM conference

Conferences provide a valuable opportunity to spark girls’ interest in STEM. They introduce girls to women role models so that girls can see themselves in careers relevant to their interests. Girls can also try out interactive activities that make STEM fun while giving them the confidence that they can succeed in these fields.

“Our aim is to help each girl feel comfortable and independent in a safe environment and help her reach out to others,” writes conference co-chair Mary Schell. One hundred girls from elementary schools in the Naples area will spend the day in career workshops led by 10 local women professionals. Meanwhile, parents will hear from educators and career experts how to help their daughters prepare for high school, college, and a career.

Not in the Naples area? Not to worry. February and March may be two of the coldest months of the year, but they’re also two of the hottest months for STEM conferences at AAUW branches.

Girls will be having fun with STEM from coast to coast — from Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology in Pennsylvania to Discovery Day for moms and daughters in California — and everywhere in between. Expanding Your Horizons conferences are taking place at AAUW branches and other sites nationwide, including five locations in Texas alone. To find out if there will be an event in your area, get in touch with your local branch and follow AAUW STEM on Facebook for updates.

If you are a member of a local branch, AAUW wants to make it easier for you to get involved in hosting a STEM conference of your own. The new Tech Savvy national program will award grants to 10 branch or state organizations to fund a daylong event for girls and their parents this year. For a preview of what the Tech Savvy program will bring to your area, you can check out the original Tech Savvy in Buffalo, New York, on March 16.

This winter, don’t miss out! Tell a girl you know who has a passion for STEM or take your own daughter to an AAUW conference in your area and help her enter the creative, exciting, and innovative world of STEM.

This post was written by AAUW STEM Program Associate Alexa Silverman.

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As New Orleans gears up for Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday in the Superdome, let’s take a timeout to examine another matchup with much higher stakes: where women are now versus where they could be. When it comes to gender equity, our team’s still behind on a whole host of issues, and we’ll need everyone out on the field to help make up the difference.

Nearly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, our research found that one year out of college, women earn only 82 cents for every dollar men earn.

changethescore grads

At this summer’s AAUW National Convention in New Orleans, we’re going to talk about the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and the unfinished work in the fight for pay equity. On Monday, June 10, we will host a plenary session with Lilly Ledbetter and our own Public Policy Director Lisa Maatz.

Pay equity isn’t the only arena where we’ve got ground to make up, though. A lot of people are going to be talking about sports this weekend, so let’s touch on that for a moment. Forty years after the passage of Title IX, we’ve still got yards to go before reaching true equity. In 2012, the NCAA reported that the average college had 238 male athletes and only 180 female athletes.

changethescore NCAA

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX last year, and we continue to talk about how we can support young women in school at this year’s convention as a part of our broader conversation on Leading across Generations. We should encourage girls to follow their passions, whether girls are aspiring athletes, politicos, or engineers.

Speaking of aspiring politicians, 2012 was a big year for women in the U.S. Senate. Your presence at the polls and voter-turnout campaigns like It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard helped elect dozens of women to both the House and Senate. But even with a record-breaking 20 female senators, there are still four men for every woman in the upper chamber.

changethescore senators

If we’re going to elect more women into our highest offices, we’ve also got to convince more of them to pick up the torch and run. Our Elect Her–Campus Women Win training program is helping inspire the next generation of first-string leaders. We’re dedicating one of our convention workshops to the program so that you can get an in-depth understanding of how the program works and what you can do to support it.

Politics isn’t the only area where we need more women in the game. Across the board, we’ve got plenty of problems to tackle, including how to get more women into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Currently, women make up only 13 percent of engineers.

changethescore stem

We’ve studied extensively the root causes of the STEM gender gap and what we can do to fix them. You can attend our STEM Branch Programming convention workshop to learn about other ways your branch can support girls and women in STEM in your community.

Don’t be a Monday-morning quarterback in the fight for women’s equity. We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball, and it will take an all-star effort to get us over the goal line. But here’s the thing: You’ve got to be in the room to call the plays. Join us in New Orleans June 9–12 as we explore how AAUW has been breaking through barriers and leading across generations for 132 years. It’s down to the wire on our best-value rate. Register today before the clock runs out on Sunday!

Continue this discussion and share these scoreboard images on social media between now and Sunday to spread the word about why we need to change the score for women and girls. Use #ChangeTheScore on Twitter, and check out our Facebook and Tumblr during the big game!

This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.

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Where are the women engineers? Women make up only 13 percent of engineering professionals in the United States, and in 2009 less than 20 percent of college engineering students were women — a 15-year low. What’s keeping the numbers so low? And what can we do?

Girls disappear from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) early: By the end of high school, girls who have previously shown ability in science and math are opting out of STEM courses. It’s not because they lack the skills. Boys and girls show the same aptitude in math and science on tests. It’s because of stereotypes that girls just aren’t good at math and science or that fields like engineering are “unfeminine.” And because engineering usually isn’t taught until college, girls have to reject these stereotypes and seek out engineering opportunities all on their own. Having women role models can show girls that engineering can be a viable career choice for them.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of National Engineers Week, is our chance to start changing the statistics. Here are just a few ways AAUW members can celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in their communities on February 21 and unlock the potential of future women engineers.

1. Encourage educators to participate in AAUW’s lesson plan contest.

How can we bring engineering into the classroom before college and before girls lose interest? AAUW is looking for innovative lesson plans that get students excited about engineering by making it relevant to kids’ lives and interests. AAUW will give a $100 prize to one national winner. AAUW branches are also encouraged to sponsor a prize for a local winner.

2. Find a woman engineer to share her experiences with local girls.

Girls need role models who can break the mold and show them that engineers come from all backgrounds. Hearing from diverse and successful women engineers shows girls that engineering incorporates many different types of skills — not just solving equations or using computer programs but also employing creativity, innovation, and teamwork.

3. Partner with girls’ groups in your area.

Girls’ groups and organizations can provide great outlets to explore engineering careers in an encouraging environment free from bias. AAUW branches are encouraged to partner with local chapters of groups like the Girl Scouts, the Association for Women in Science, Girls Excelling in Math and Science, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Girls Inc. to teach girls about their potential in STEM careers. For ideas, visit the National Engineers Week Foundation list of resources and AAUW’s own activities and resources page for girls.

This February, let’s work together to celebrate the “G” in “engineer.” Have more ideas about how to introduce girls to engineering or honor the achievements of women engineers? Let us know in the comments!

This post was written by AAUW STEM Program Associate Alexa Silverman.

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AAUW has made tremendous strides for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) since our founding more than 130 years ago. Over the years, we have produced cutting-edge research, convened discussions with key policy makers, and supported leading female thinkers like scientist Marie Curie and astronauts Judith Resnik and Mae Jemison through our fellowships and grants. Now, with a new STEM partnership and expanded programs for girls throughout the country, our work won’t slow down in 2013.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead.


Partnership with STEMconnector
AAUW is proud to announce that we have become a nonprofit sponsor of STEMconnector, an organization that works to bring together companies, nonprofit groups, and policy makers focused on building diversity in STEM. On January 30, 2013, AAUW will host a town hall discussion on STEMconnector’s latest research report, which analyzes the STEM job market and aims to help connect students to employers. From AAUW’s own research, we know how crucial it is to encourage more women to consider careers in STEM, and we’re excited to join STEMconnector in this endeavor.

Expanding STEM Programs for Girls

AAUW is pleased to kick off 2013 by expanding Tech Trek and Tech Savvy, two wildly successful programs that started at the branch and state levels, to reach girls nationwide:

Tech Trek
This year, Tech Trek summer camps will go nationwide with the addition of five new sites. Tech Trek has inspired more than 9,000 campers since it was founded in 2008 in California. These camps take 12- and 13-year-old girls on a weeklong “trek” to a local college campus for a chance to explore their potential in science and technology. Girls connect with role models through interactive classes, field trips, and workshops led by women professionals. And the camp draws some outstanding experts: Tech Trek campers have heard from many amazing role models, like the late astronaut Sally Ride and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

The new camps will launch in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington, including in rural areas where programs like Tech Trek are most needed.

Tech Savvy
AAUW’s Tech Savvy program is a day of hands-on STEM workshops and informational sessions for sixth–ninth grade girls and their parents. The conference spurs excitement about STEM and gives girls the inspiration they need to pursue that interest through high school and college. AAUW will be expanding the highly successful program — which launched in Buffalo, New York, in 2006 — with the support of Tech Savvy founder Tamara Brown, who just last year was recognized by the White House for her efforts to increase the number of women engaged in STEM. AAUW is proud that Praxair Inc.’s sponsorship has made it possible to launch Tech Savvy at 10 pilot sites in the coming year.

In a world where gender bias and stereotypes prevent girls from pursuing STEM, these programs really matter. Tech Trek and Tech Savvy help girls at a critical time in their lives: right before they enter high school and begin to choose their educational paths. And the partnership with STEMconnector strengthens our efforts to make STEM fields more accessible for women in the workplace. 2013 is just the start for AAUW and STEM!

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reshma_saujaniReshma Saujani was born in the United States to Ugandan refugee parents fleeing Idi Amin’s violent dictatorship. Her parents’ experiences in Uganda triggered a personal concern in Saujani for the welfare of Americans; she wanted to ensure that citizens had a political voice as well as economic opportunities. And that’s just what she did!

Saujani is a former deputy public advocate for New York City and the former executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy. During her time in public office she promoted civic engagement and government accountability. By taking the lead on projects that aimed to increase citywide job and economic growth, engaging with immigrant communities, supporting small businesses, and improving education. Saujani made sure she could improve the quality of life for New Yorkers.

But Saujani also takes the time to empower girls through Girls Who Code, a nonprofit she founded with the mission to educate, inspire, and equip girls ages 13–18 with the skills and resources necessary to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Her organization works to fill the gender gap within the STEM fields and give girls the courage and support to take on these areas where they are often discouraged.

Saujani is a woman who cannot be stopped: a public servant, a leader, a role model, and an inspiration. She has given back to her community and leads with a vision that is bigger than herself. Her investment in bettering the lives of girls by encouraging them that they can do whatever they set their minds to pushes me to do more too. Saujani’s actions demonstrate what a leader should be. She leads for others. She leads selflessly and with passion.

With her upcoming book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, she advocates for women to support each other and step outside of boundaries that society has deemed normal for women. I am extremely excited to meet her at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). I look forward to listening to her empowering words and learning about her journey. I look up to Saujani, and she encourages me to move forward without fear of failure and to embrace and support other women around me. She is indeed a motivator.

Meet Saujani, a 2013 Woman of Distinction, at NCCWSL 2013! What will you be eager to ask her?

Editors’ note: In an earlier version, we erroneously stated that Saujani was herself a refugee from Uganda. In fact, she is the daughter of political refugees and was born in the United States.

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled in me the value and importance of an education. I always knew that I was meant to go to high school and college. Now that I am in college, I have noticed that many of the younger girls I know are not motivated to do the same. And I asked myself, Why, and what can we do?

Part of my question was answered in November, when I had the privilege of volunteering at the Adelante/Moving Forward with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) conference, which was co-hosted by the AAUW Elgin Area (IL) Branch, League of United Latin American Citizens, Elgin Community College, and Judson University. The conference was intended to support Latina girls in middle and high school while encouraging them to pursue STEM fields as possible future career choices. Many of the activities emphasized STEM and the bond in Latino families. The girls attended with their moms, many of whom did not go to college themselves, and the conference also emphasized helping the mothers understand the importance of the college experience and the impact it can have on their daughters.

Volunteers from Elgin Community CollegeOne of the most touching moments of the conference was the book discussion about The House on Mango Street. Lizette Beltran, a Bartlett High School alumna, talked about the importance of having her mom’s support in school and in overcoming obstacles. This prompted many of the moms to ask how they can help their own daughters and what the volunteers’ own moms have done to help us succeed. To me, this was the most fascinating aspect of the conference!

I have a strong bond with my mom, and her support of my education has been very important. From my own experience, I think that encouraging girls at a younger age, especially ethnic minority students, to go to college is crucial to establishing their motivation to continue their education. Minority college students are more at-risk for obstacles in their educational pursuits and often lack knowledge of college options. But having another woman give you her undivided support can go a long way, especially if that woman is your mom.

By encouraging mothers to learn about their daughters’ educational interests, conferences like these offer mothers a better understanding of what college will entail. This is a win-win situation because girls’ enrollment will likely increase and the mother-daughter bond will be strengthened — just like mine was with my mom.

Although this conference was geared toward STEM pursuits, its format could be used in any field of study by including moms and changing the activities to fit the desired specialty. Not only will the conference expose girls to a field of study that interests them, but it will also drive students to work hard in high school and earn better grades, allowing them to enroll at a higher education institution. Similarly, if a girl feels like she is making the wrong choices, an opportunity like this could still come early enough for her to change her habits and do better in school. Although this was the first time that I encountered this type of conference, I have no doubt that it can make a great impact on young girls. From what I have seen, a little support and the proper guidance can truly impact girls’ lives.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Nanci Alanis.

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Image courtesy of Kristina HalonaKristina Halona was one of those kids who were obsessed with anything that flew. She remembers the exact moment when she looked up at a low-flying jet traveling over the isolated Navajo reservation in Arizona where she grew up. The awesome power of the machine, the stark contrast between its technology and her life without running water or electricity, changed her. From that moment, Halona was always outspoken about her love of engineering. In high school, a combination of talent and supportive teachers helped Halona find opportunities and mentors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

A school counselor told Halona about an intensive multi-year STEM summer camp at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Teachers and counselors also encouraged her to join an after-school STEM club and travel to local universities to meet professors and students. Through these experiences she was able to develop her skills, talk with engineering professionals, and begin to see herself as an aerospace engineer. Even though there are few women — especially Native American women — in the STEM fields, Halona never doubted her path. When Halona first attended the Phillips Academy camp as part of the Massachusetts Science for Minority Students program, she had to work hard to catch up to the students who came from privileged backgrounds. That summer marked her first trip outside of Arizona and her first time on an airplane, but despite being out of her element, Halona held her own and successfully completed all three summers of rigorous courses

With all her hard work and success, Halona is still very aware of what her life could have been like — Native American teen dropout rates are double the national average. Even more seriously, she notes that youth suicide rates on tribal reservations are up to 10 times higher than among the national population.

Halona in action

Halona in action

While at Arizona State University, Halona was elected to be the student representative to the board of directors of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), of which she had been a member and chapter president for years. Through that position she met her mentor John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut to fly in space, who was also on the AISES board. Meeting Herrington and learning from his mentorship was a meaningful opportunity to Halona since there are not many Native Americans in STEM fields. In 2002, Halona was invited to join Herrington’s family to watch his shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Today Halona is a flight test engineer at Raytheon Company in New Mexico.

Halona received her AAUW Selected Professions Fellowship in 2008 while getting her master’s degree in engineering at George Washington University. When she attended AAUW events, she felt in awe of all the members and her fellow grantees. But Halona says that being among them opened her eyes and inspired her to keep going.

A spark ignited in Halona the day she saw that jet flying over her, and it never went out. Halona has lived by her own advice: “No matter your background or where you come from, never give up.”

Halona’s Selected Professions Fellowship was sponsored by the Leona Buckley Miller American Fellowship, established in 1999, and the Flora Rawls American Fellowship, established in 1981.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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Dress-up wedding collections for your little “bride-to-be.” Pretty LEGOs to help her build beauty shops. Dolls skinnier than Barbie and sexier than Bratz. Pink vacuum cleaners and cleaning trolleys, makeup kits and kitchen sets.

"Intent" image courtesy of whatnot on Flickr Creative Commons

I spoke with Jennifer Pozner, founder and executive director of Women in Media and News, about the effects of toy gendering on young girls. Even beyond their frills and (seeming) frivolity, hyperfeminine and highly gendered products like Barbie and Bratz are far from harmless, said Pozner. Instead, they serve as “didactic tools to teach girls what they will be valued for and what is expected of them.” In this framework, toys like tiaras, purses, and play ovens represent more than fun and games: They’re instruments that help socialize girls for roles as caretakers and trophy wives. And while cooking and cleaning are undoubtedly important skills to teach the young, it becomes concerning when the more educationally driven toys are overwhelmingly targeted to boys.

“It’s almost impossible to overstate the level of misogyny and hypersexualization present in the marketing of products to girls,” said Pozner, “and the problem is getting worse.” Indeed, many experts argue that toy marketing has become increasingly gendered over the last decade, leaving little room for boys who like nail polish or girls who like science.

So what can you do if you don’t want give your daughter a pink apron for Christmas? With Pozner’s help, I’ve compiled a list of fun, empowering, and educational gifts for young people that do more than dictate sex and gender roles.

Ages 2–5

  • I Got Shoes and other children’s CDs, Sweet Honey in the Rock
    I first learned of this all-women, African American a cappella ensemble in a women’s studies class during my freshman year. The Grammy Award-winning troupe boasts several children’s records that use song and dance to address issues of motherhood, spirituality, freedom, and civil rights. Great for burgeoning toddler activists!
  • MindWare toys
    This educational toy line has received awards from Parents’ Choice, Creative Child magazine, iParenting Media, and others for its engaging products, which include puzzles, mazes, and arts and crafts.

Ages 5–10

  • Genderific Coloring Books, Jacinta Bunnell
    Bunnell’s coloring books, including Girls Are Not Chicks and Sometimes the Spoon Runs away with Another Spoon, encourage positive sex and gender roles, such as celebrating girls who climb fences and boys who bake pies.
  • GoldieBloxGoldiblox, a new construction toy for girls, was created in response to the lack of women in engineering.
    A female engineer created this innovative construction toy for girls in response to the fact that nearly 90 percent of all engineers are men. The toy teaches basic math and science concepts as girls build a belt drive for Goldie and her friends.
  • Call Me Madame President, Sue Pyatt
    Even after record-breaking wins in the recent election, women still hold only 20 percent of seats in the U.S. Senate. Help fix the problem by inspiring a young girl with this tale of 8-year-old Amanda, who becomes president of the United States!
  • Roominate
    This gender-neutral engineering toy lets children build miniature rooms and houses. Best of all, there is no set way to build a space, allowing for constructive problem solving and creative thinking.

Ages 11–13

  • New Moon magazine
    Pozner recommends this bimonthly magazine for young girls, which is free of advertising and diet advice and rich in stories on young female activists, adventurers, and athletes.
  • Hummingbird Robotics Kit
    A spin-off from a similar kit by Carnegie Mellon University, the kit comes with everything a girl needs to build the robot of her dreams, from a dragon with flapping wings to a replica of R2-D2.
  • Help her become a rock star.
    Why buy Rock Band when you can give your daughter the real thing, asks Pozner. Set her up with a guitar and music lessons, or better yet, sign her up for a week at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a nonprofit music and mentoring program dedicated to the empowerment of girls and women.

Ages 13 and Up

  • Our Bodies, Ourselves
    First published in 1971, this canonical book teaches crucial information on women’s health and sexuality, with topics including menstruation, childbirth, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health, and general well-being.
  • Arduino Cookbook
    This “cookbook” teaches readers to program an open-source microcontroller, a tiny circuit board that serves as the basis for arts and robotics projects. Kids can use it to create their own toys, remote controllers, alarms, detectors, robots, and more.
  • A month of tutoring on graphic design or video editing
    “Getting girls involved in creating their own media can be a great skill and empowering tool,” said Pozner. Girls interested in media literacy can use software programs like Apple’s Final Cut Pro to make their own movies, memes, infographics, and more.
  • Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV, Jennifer Pozner
    Pozner herself wrote this 2010 book, which analyzes biases promoted by reality TV, especially regarding sexism, and arms readers with tools to understand and challenge media stereotypes. According to AAUW fellow and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, the book “should be required reading for every American girl and woman.”

Pozner conducts media literacy lectures and trainings at schools and colleges. You can e-mail her or visit www.wimnonline.org for more information.

This post was written by AAUW Media Relations Intern Renee Davidson.

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If you’re a young woman majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), it can be hard to get away from the widespread bias against women in the STEM fields. That’s why more and more colleges and universities each year are helping women students build communities by creating STEM sororities on their campuses.

STEM sorority sisters encourage each other to succeed in their fields and to stick with a STEM major. Even when the going gets tough, these women know they’re not alone because they’re surrounded by other young women encountering the same obstacles. In the male-dominated STEM fields, it’s important for women to have female role models and peers who understand their experiences and challenge the stereotypical image of the male STEM professional.

Here’s how three STEM sororities are breaking barriers — and having fun while they’re at it:

Alpha Omega Epsilon (ΑΩΕ) is a sorority for women engineers. Under the Microscope recently interviewed sisters of the new ΑΩΕ chapter at the University of Pennsylvania. The engineering sisterhood has given them a way to connect with mentors and friends who can offer support and help plan a future career path. When Penn’s rigorous exams are over, the sisters celebrate like true engineers, building structurally sound gingerbread houses for the holidays.

Alpha Sigma Kappa (ΑΣΚ) — Women in Technical Studies began when students at the University of Minnesota wanted to change the trend of male-dominated representation in STEM fields: Only 17 percent of students in technical majors at UMN were women when the sorority was founded in 1989. Since then, ΑΣΚ sisters have been challenging the stereotypes of women in tech. Says one sister on her Tumblr, “Sometimes when people hear the ‘technical’ in Alpha Sigma Kappa — Women in Technical Studies, they think ‘academic’ and equate that with dull or boring when really it means that before the ladies of ASK go out and play, we make sure we’ve got an A.”

The sisters of Phi Sigma Rho (ΦΣΡ) — a sorority for women engineering and engineering technology majors, complete with its own mascot, Sigmand the Penguin — recognize the importance of mentorship. Twice a year, members connect with alumnae for “Résumania,” where students get the chance to have their résumés critiqued by professional women engineers. Later in the year, ΦΣΡ sisters offer their own advice by writing letters of encouragement to young girls to let them know that they too can succeed in STEM.

Are you a member or an alumna of a science or technology sorority? Share your experience in the comments!

This post was written by AAUW STEM Programs Intern Alexa Silverman

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The Fellowships and Grants staff at AAUW loves every chance we get to meet and celebrate all of the fantastic AAUW alumnae. When a former fellow receives an award or is recognized for her work, well, we just love to brag about it! So here goes … 1995–96 American Fellow Carol Tang was recently named one of California’s top Leading Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by the California STEM Learning Network!

We first profiled Tang back in 2009 for the Following the Fellows series. Back then, she was a senior science educator at the California Academy of Sciences. Today she is the director of the Coalition for Science after School. Though paleontology research and education are both interests of Tang’s, she readily admits that one passion won over the other: She is deeply committed to after-school science education and the many ways it can change a child’s life.

The benefits of after-school science programs are twofold. First, these programs offer young people hands-on scientific experience with a mentor that can spark a love for science and form the basis of a future career.  Secondly, science education prepares young people to be creative thinkers and future problem-solvers. Today’s issues, like climate change and public health, are not going away anytime soon. Tang says that since future generations will have to tackle these and other problems, it is important to give young people the skills to solve scientific quandaries. “It would be a crime not to prepare them,” she says.

When Tang discovered that she was being honored as one of California’s leading women in STEM for her work in scientific education outside the classroom, she was both surprised and excited about what this recognition meant for the field of after-school education. Tang says the award helps to erode the stereotype that after-school programs are not rigorous. “In after-school programs it is not about how much the youth are ‘learning,’ it is about how much they are engaging. This can’t be measured with hours or test scores,” says Tang. Programs like the Coalition for Science after School connect youth with scientist mentors who demonstrate that careers in science are not only real; they are also within reach. Tang says this interest in and emotional connection to science is especially powerful for both girls and boys in underserved areas. Identification with science can show youth that STEM education is empowering and an achievable opportunity.

Clinton Global Initiative

Tang applauds AAUW’s role in empowering women and girls in STEM. Programs like the Selected Professions Fellowship, the Tech Trek summer camps, and research are leveling the playing field for women in math and science. And it can all start with simple steps: When Tang was working on exhibits with the California Academy of Sciences, she learned how much a two-hour visit to a museum really matters. If “those 30 words on the aquarium fish label can make a difference,” she says, then the connections made in after-school education can change lives.

Tang’s 1995–96 American Fellowship was sponsored by the Evelyn Fox Keller American Fellowship and the Nora Harris Perry American Fellowship.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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