TechLounge: Central Ohio Technology | Entrepreneurs | Innovation
Seeing this video reminded me of something I wanted to share:
- As you know, there is a huge shortfall between the number of engineers and scientists needed in the future, and the number of qualified people available fill the positions or in the academic pipeline. The current labor pool for many of these fields is overwhelmingly male. Lots of supporting numbers are available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.ncwit.org, the National Science Foundation, and a plethora of other sources.
- We can't fill those positions of the future recruiting from only half (the male half) of the population. Nor should we, as women are not only equally as capable in technical areas, but perhaps more capable in the social skills necessary for global collaboration.
- There are not enough young women in the academic pipeline in many STEM disciplines. There are many professional and University-based organizations to support women interested in STEM topics and careers, but simply not enough women in college pursuing the related majors. To increase the number of young women pursuing these fields in college, we must increase increase interest at the high school level.
- After nearly a decade of trying to increase the number of young women in our advanced technology courses, I stopped trying to solve the problem myself. I asked our best and brightest high school girls. They said we have to start at middle school, supporting those girls who were interested in STEM subjects before social pressures (and in some cases parental pressures) quashed their interest in non-traditional careers. The STEM Girls concept was born.
- The STEM Girls Club has a dual mission. First, engage in activities that provide mutual social and academic support, while sampling a variety of STEM fields through guest speakers and hands-on activities. Second, engage in middle school outreach activities (FIONA, tutoring, shadowing day) to help support middle school girls' interests, build their confidence and intellectual courage, and create a sense of community, including mentoring and role model relationships, that will ease the transition to high school and the difficult but rewarding STEM experiences available there.
- Along the way, these girls become highly competitive for a growing number of awards, scholarships and exciting opportunities. I anticipate one or more of them being in the top 6 Senior Seminar Presentations competing at the New Albany-Plain Local Schools McCoy Center later this year. They have been accepted at some of the finest colleges and universities in the country.
- The STEM Girls Club gives students another opportunity to become involved in something real, authentic, practical, immediate. It gives them another leadership opportunity, another outlet for their growing interest in making a genuine difference in the world. It provides a safe opportunity to rehearse the very behaviors they need to master in order to excel at college and beyond.
- And THAT is the purpose of the STEM Girls Club. We see it as a scalable, sustainable, replicable model that every high school in the country could use to help increase the number of young women in the STEM education and career pipeline. We need no budget line item. It is funded by enthusiasm, fueled by opportunity. The greater community is filled with people willing to help, as witness our recent guest speakers, because the underlying concept simply makes sense.
- Three of our STEM Girls took that story to the 2012 Ohio Educational Technology Conference. Afterward, we received two requests to repeat the presentation at upcoming national conferences.