For decades, educators have seen that as girls hit the middle school grades, many conclude that science, technology, engineering and math – referred to as STEM – are better suited for their male classmates. Consequently, girls fade from class discussions and begin to veer toward other subjects, limiting opportunities for college and professions in these fast-growing areas. The American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Bluegrass Central branch is taking action to change the pattern.
Tech Savvy, the rapidly growing and wildly successful hands-on workshop for middle school girls created via the American Association of University Women (AAUW), comes to Kentucky on May 17, hosted by Kentucky State University in Frankfort to support girls in their interests in STEM. Registration for girls and adults is open online at http://bluegrass-ky.aauw.net/ky-tech-savvy/. The deadline to register is May 3 and the cost per person is $5 for a full day of hand-on fun and intrigue.
AAUW ‘s program, which pursues gender equity in the teaching of and working in STEM fields, is one focus of its service outreach. With a grant from the PRAXAIR Foundation, Kentucky is one of 10 new venues nationwide to offer the program in 2014. The Tech Savvy workshop invites girls in sixth through ninth grades to sample STEM fields in sessions led by women who are successfully working in these areas, along with a parallel program for parents, teachers and other adults involved with the girls’ lives.
A 2010 report by AAUW found that environmental and social barriers – including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities – can block women’s progress in STEM.
Sessions include Bugging Out over Water Quality, Airplane Building Blocks from A to Z, DNA Testing, Traveling Electrons, What’s a Statapult and How Do I Use it?, What Charges Your iPhone?, A Taste of Python Programming: Disease Epidemic and Food Mapping.
Tech Savvy’s track for adults includes information on paying for college, helping with homework and other practical areas of advancing the girls’ educations, particularly in STEM fields. Instructors include women who hail from Alltech, Toyota USA, Lockheed Martin and more.
Kentucky’s program is modeled after a successful series of conferences held by the AAUW Buffalo, New York branch, which kicked off in 2006. The day-long program offers girls opportunities to experience academic and career prospects in STEM areas through hands-on sessions.
Tamara Brown, who created the program of fun and relevant approaches to STEM and will attend on May 17, knows that girls often need encouragement to consider careers in these areas that may be perceived as lacking in service to others. “We want to show the girls that STEM education and careers can foster good things, whether it’s societal good or environmental good,” she said. President Barack Obama honored Brown as one of “12 Champions of Change” in 2012.
The program kicks off at 8:15 a.m. with breakfast provided by the Frankfort McDonald’s restaurants and lunch is provided with registration, too. Additional Tech Savvy sponsors include Toyota USA, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturing.
More information is available on the Bluegrass chapter website (http://bluegrass-ky.aauw.net/). Anyone interested in volunteering for the day of the event should contact Ramona Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bluegrass Central AAUW branch includes women who live in Franklin, Fayette, Woodford, Madison, Jessamine and Boyle counties, but registration for Tech Savvy is open to all Kentuckians.