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Posts Tagged: Generating Girls' Opportunities

This year we asked CWEALF supporters to contribute towards our Generating Girls’ Opportunities Initiative by funding the lovely bedazzled safety glasses modeled above.
Donations are still being accepted at www.causes.com/CWEALF

This year we asked CWEALF supporters to contribute towards our Generating Girls’ Opportunities Initiative by funding the lovely bedazzled safety glasses modeled above.

Donations are still being accepted at www.causes.com/CWEALF

CWEALF’s Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) initative engages girls, parents, and teachers in expanding girls’ educational opportunities.
Read more on our website!

CWEALF’s Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) initative engages girls, parents, and teachers in expanding girls’ educational opportunities.

Read more on our website!

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The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) has a variety of opportunities for volunteers, ranging from projects that span a few months to some that can be done in one day. One of these opportunities is volunteering within our Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) initiative. Most of our G2O volunteers help by attending Girls and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Expos which are hosted at different college campuses around Connecticut. These are day-long expos where we invite young girls to participate in hands-on activities to expose them to careers in STEM. Volunteers attend these expos to help staff set up for activities, distribute goodie bags and t-shirts, as well as take the girls to different classrooms on campus for each workshop. Learn more about G2O volunteer opportunities here.

CWEALF’ Generating Girls’ Opportunity (G2O) Initiative will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year! Here’s an overview of the work that has been done so far.

CWEALF’ Generating Girls’ Opportunity (G2O) Initiative will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year! Here’s an overview of the work that has been done so far.

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As a new intern at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), I recently experienced inspiration: the apex of CWEALF’s hard work. This past Friday, October 11, 2013, we held a Girls and STEM Expo at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, CT. Being inexperienced in the Expo process, it was my first time planning an event that would reach so many people, particularly those at a young, impressionable age.

Without having attended, no less orchestrated, any of CWEALF’s Expos in the past, it sometimes seemed like I was organizing blindly. Anyone can relate to a situation where you don’t know exactly what to expect, but I must admit that it was a little bit daunting thinking that 130 teachers and seventh graders would be judging my hard work and planning!

My CWEALF supervisors assured me that everything would pay off on Expo day, but I didn’t truly understand what they meant until I was actually immersed in “it”. “It” is a very difficult experience to describe, though of course I am referring to the Expo. All of the planning seemed so logical and concrete, but when the girls arrived the Expo took on a life entirely of its own and became so much more than just the Expo itself. The intricate details of preparation that had seemed so important, such as deciding which font to use for the cover of a career packet, were no longer so significant. Instead, the excitement that the girls conveyed toward the STEM activities was the only thing that seemed to matter.

It is amazing to see the kind of energy and wonder that is still present in middle school. As an adult, I think that so often we view the world with such objectivity that we forget what it means to really invest ourselves in a moment—the moment of trying something new. As I walked through the different workshops, I couldn’t help but become excited too! Learning how to weld, or manipulate a machine, or form an efficient assembly line, were all memorable experiences that I never had in middle school. By watching the girls, it was as if I was engaging in these skill building activities, activities that I now feel that I truly missed out on as a youth.

In all honesty, the stipulations that many girls have about going into different areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were present with me throughout college, and most definitely affected the selection of my degree program. To have the capability of inspiring girls to take opportunities that I never knew were available for me is a pretty remarkable experience.

Although I am new to the realm of CWEALF Expos, I can already see the importance of addressing potential STEM careers with middle school girls. It is obvious, as you watch the students feed off of each other’s enthusiasm, that they are still at a very impressionable age. As they endeavor into the sciences more “seriously,” and at a time when they are making the transition from diorama projects to textbook assignments, it takes memorable experiences like the Expos to ignite an interest and motivation that will carry the girls through the necessary, and sometimes arduous, education for STEM careers.

Reflecting on this Expo, and in anticipation of the many more in the spring, I now understand the real importance of CWEALF’s work with the Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) Initiative.  Because of this rewarding experience, I now feel a stronger drive to continuously improve upon the STEM Expo day so we can reach even more girls. And after all of this, ultimately seeing the buzz of students excited about STEM and wanting to tell others about their memorable day: that is the inspiration. 

Written by Danielle Simoneau. Danielle is a graduate of Rhode Island College and is the G2O intern at CWEALF.

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Carole Del Vecchio is a welder and a welding instructor in the Manufacturing Technology Center at Asnuntuck Community College (ACC). She is a woman who is passionate about welding (as an art form and as a trade) and teaching. But although Carole is both a technician and an artist with welding equipment, it wasn’t her first avocation.

Welding is Carole’s third career. Her earlier careers included working as an interpreter/translator in the Massachusetts Court system and running her own trucking company. Her love for heavy equipment began when she was a girl growing up in a family involved in the automotive business; she always loved fixing things.  At 18, she got to ride in a big rig; in her 20’s she learned to repair a transmission.

She recalls herself at 10 years old watching a woman on a Harley while at her family’s beach house in Old Lyme and how she wanted to be that woman. She knew she would get there; she just wasn’t clear then that her love for bikes would steer her to a lifelong love affair with bikes and a welding career.

Carole’s interest in restoring antique Harleys led her to ACC. She needed to learn to weld aluminum in order to be able to restore the bikes to their original condition. Carole enrolled at ACC as a student in 2007, graduated in 2009 and became a staff member upon graduation.

Carole is an inspired and inspiring teacher. She is an artist in metal, and she also loves her interactions with students of all ages, especially when she gets to experience their ‘aha!’ moments.  Carole appreciates the career awareness experiences that girls have by participating in CWEALF’s G2O Girls and STEM Expos and is an enthusiastic partner in our activities.

Carole explains, “Girls don’t know what they don’t know; Expos allow them to experience all kinds of different areas at ACC. Will they become welders? It’s clear that most of them won’t. But without that exposure, the idea of being a welder would NEVER occur to middle school girls.”

And perhaps without that mystery woman flying down that shore road, Carole may never have known to explore the field that became her passion.

To learn more about our Expos and other fun and enlightening G2O activities, visit our website at www.girlsopp.org.

 

 

Written by Lucy Brakoniecki. Lucy is the Research & Evaluation Director at CWEALF.

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As many of you know, CWEALF is dedicated to promoting girls’ educational and career opportunities.  Our Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) Initiative strives to get girls interested in, and excited about, careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as these fields are still primarily male-dominated today. 

This summer, I’ve spoken with a number of 7th- and 8th- grade girls from across Connecticut about their experiences with math. Research has shown that middle school is a critical time when girls begin to lose interest in math courses, which can limit their career choices.  Our goal was to assess how middle school girls in Connecticut feel about math. 

I am delighted to report that the majority of the girls I interviewed are enjoying and excelling at math! 

The girls’ overwhelming enthusiasm about using math both inside and outside of the classroom is noteworthy.  Their teachers deserve credit for innovating creative and fun approaches; the girls I spoke with appreciated the variety of interactive activities like visual games, problem-solving competitions, opportunities to use technology like the SMART Board, and even a “Bring-Your-Own Pie” for Pi-Day (March 14). In addition to having fun with math in the classroom, the girls expressed an understanding of its utility in everyday life:

“Math is everywhere!”

“Math presents a tool that lets you connect with other people, like at the store, to call a number, or to find a house address on a street.”

“I use math for shopping (to figure out prices and sales) and for baking (to measure fractions).”

“Lots of good-paying jobs use math!”

“Everyone should know enough math to pay their bills.”

These girls are smart and have high aspirations!  Some of their dream careers include: architect, medical professional, D.N.A. research scientist, pharmacist, accountant, pediatrician, nurse, and 7th-grade math teacher. 

When asked why teaching was her dream, one inspiring young girl stated, “I want to be a 7th-grade math teacher so I can help students that struggle in math like me.  I’ll understand how they feel.” 

 

Photo by Gates Foundation, “West Charlotte High School Student,” September 23, 2009. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Cassandra Martin is a student at Boston College and summer intern at CWEALF.

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A recent article in US News discusses how colleges are trying to retain women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors.  Female students sometimes feel uncomfortable and intimidated by STEM classes that are mostly populated by males since at many schools women make up only 10-15% of STEM majors. Many colleges now are trying to work to implement mentoring programs and communities for women in STEM majors so that they do not feel alone or uncomfortable continuing in the major of their choice.  The article cites UT-Austin and Virginia Tech as two colleges who use learning communities to make women feel comfortable in a STEM major and connect them with more experienced women in those majors.  Many of these programs involve a living component where women in STEM live in the same dorm so that they are surrounded by people who are interested in the same things as they are.  

In addition to the two colleges that the article mentions, Connecticut’s own, University of Connecticut at Storrs also has a learning community for women in STEM. The learning community is called WiMSE (Women in Math, Science, and Engineering) and the women who choose to be in this community live together on the same floor of a dorm.  Students take a one-credit class each semester that educates them and connects them with important information, issues, and connections in their majors. They also take part in leadership, networking, and community outreach activities with their learning community classmates and professors. Testimonies from women in WiMSE say that they are all able to help each other on homework, learn from each other, and that they have found their best friends through the community.

The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) supports women and girls interested in STEM and works to get young girls excited about STEM careers through the Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) expos, held throughout the year. Getting girls interested in STEM is the first step and learning communities in colleges can help keep women on track to have successful careers in STEM fields by surrounding them with other supportive women in those majors.

Photo by: Argonne National Laboratory. April 2, 2009. Science Careers in Search of Women. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Written by Jennifer Farina. Jen is a student at the University of Connecticut studying Family Studies and Psychology and an intern at CWEALF. 

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Now that it’s summertime, kids are finished with school and will be home during the day. It can be a daunting task for parents to find things to keep their kids active and learning. Here at CWEALF, we think it’s very important for girls and boys to stay interested in math and science. During the school year, CWEALF hosts STEM Expos for 7th grade girls which are always met with great reviews. On the G2O website, there are tons of different fun activities you can do at home. Here’s another fun activity for people of all ages!

Make Oobleck (Slime)!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1.5 cup cornstarch (You can add more cornstarch as needed)
  • Food Coloring (We think green looks best)
  • A mixing container
  1. Start off somewhere you don’t mind getting a little messy. Put the water in to the mixing container, and add a few drops of food coloring. The more food coloring you add, the darker the color.
  2. Pour the cornstarch into the mixing container. Let the kids mix with their hands until everything is squished together into slime. If you think your slime is too soupy, feel free to add more cornstarch until the consistency is right.
  3. Play! Feel how the slime changes from a liquid to a solid when you pick it up or push it. Ask your kids why they think the slime does this.

Explanation:

Oobleck, named from a Dr. Seuss book, is a non-newtonian fluid. This means that it’s resistance to flow or movement increases the harder you try to push it. The cornstarch particles are slow moving, so if you push quickly against the oobleck, they don’t have time to move. But if you slowly dip your hand into the mixture, the particles can move out of the way and the oobleck will feel like a liquid.

Photo by Jason Eppink, “oobleck,” 6/20/13, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Written by Linda Manville Kaphaem. Linda is a Reproductive Justice Advocate and a CWEALF intern.

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A recent article describes small measures within national legislation that would increase funding to U.S. students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by using fees from high-skilled visa holders.  Specifically, this funding would come from H-1B visas, which are for high-skilled temporary workers.  There is controversy over the how people holding H-1B visas and the proposed immigration reform would affect U.S. students considering STEM careers, but there is a broad consensus that the U.S. should increase the number of its students that pursue STEM.  While a lot of funding is given to STEM fields—$6 billion by National Science Foundation alone—most of this is focused on advanced research at universities.  The money from immigration reform would focus on earlier education.  Statistics published by Smithsonian magazine show that a majority of U.S. students are not proficient in math and science in 4th, 8th, and 12th grades, though this amount has increased significantly since 1990.  Another study by Smithsonian and the Pew Research Center shows that 46 % of respondents in a nationwide telephone survey perceive that U.S. students do not pursue math and science degrees because it is too difficult.  This perception, combined with the low performance of students in earlier education, support the idea that there should be an earlier focus on STEM education.

            However, an early focus on STEM education is not the only problem.  There is a significant drop-off from people who receive degrees in these fields to people who work in them.  According to Smithsonian, only 56% of men and 41% of women with their highest degree in science and engineering (S&E) fields actually work in S&E fields.  While 31% of bachelor’s degrees were awarded in S&E subjects, and 27% of the workforce holds at least a bachelor’s degree, only 4.6% of the workforce has a job in an S&E field.  Following through on STEM careers also needs to be a focus of reform.

            These numbers are significant for students overall, but they are especially significant for women.  The same statistics released by Smithsonian show that only 26.8% of workers in S&E fields are women.  This puts women at a significant economic loss, given that the median annual earnings for S&E workers in 2010 was $75,820, compared to the median earnings of all workers at $33,840.  That was just at earnings in 2010.  Smithsonian reports the expected growth rate for S&E employment between 2008 and 2018 was more than double that of total employment, at 20.6% to 10.1%. STEM is a growing field and the opportunities that women are missing out on now may be significantly less than what they could be missing out on in the future.  If the U.S. is really focused on reforming the STEM education and workforce in this country, then it needs to address the untapped workforce of women.  The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) is dedicated to increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM education and careers through their Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) Initiative.

 

 

Written by Sarah Trench. Sarah is a student at NYU and an intern at CWEALF.