This book is for educators, parents, and community partners!

Resources, ideas, examples, for both beginners and experts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Connecting Girls to S.T.E.M. Careers

In the process of writing the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, I interviewed several professionals in the S.T.E.M. fields, professional educators, and a graduate student conducting research at Columbia University. One of my favorites of these conversations was with Dr. Patricia Galloway. The first woman President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, at the time I spoke with her she was the Vice Chair of the National Science Board. We talked about why girls are not interested in becoming engineers. “The women who influence what career paths girls might follow,” she said, “do not understand what a career in engineering looks like or believe that it’s a likely career path for girls.”

But that may be changing, thanks to the Girls RISE Museum Network (RISEnet). They are working with a network of regional science centers to strengthen the professional capacity of informal science educators to engage and motivate girls to explore and pursue science and engineering careers. They are building a national network of science museums to contribute to the development of a diverse pool of young female engineers.

Girls RISEnet organizes around a train-the-trainer model, and regional science centers such as the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), located in Portland and serving Oregon, Washington and Alaska, host regional workshops for classroom teachers in grades 6-12 and other leaders of programs for girls and underserved minorities. The program includes travel grants to ensure that everyone who wants to participate from throughout the vast, rural region is able to attend.

The Girls RISE website features resources and research on engaging girls in S.T.E.M. careers. They even offer a network of engineering mentors, professionals who have already committed to sharing their expertise with schools. The mentor database can be cross referenced by location and discipline.

I believe it’s true that just one interested and caring role model can be the first step to inspiring a young girl to reach for the moon. Dr. Galloway’s advice to girls is to never let anyone convince them that their dreams can’t come true.

Website of the week:  Engineer Girl

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