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.
empowering women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities in their personal and professional lives
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.
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.
Written by Lucy Brakoniecki. Lucy is the Research & Evaluation Director at CWEALF.
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.
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.
Written by Jennifer Farina. Jen is a student at the University of Connecticut studying Family Studies and Psychology and an intern at CWEALF.
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)!
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.
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.
Women currently earn 41 percent of PhDs in STEM fields – that is, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – but make up only 28 percent of tenure-track faculty in those fields, according to a 2011 report published by the Department of . That same report says that women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs in the U.S., despite filling nearly 50 percent of jobs in the current job market, and that women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
There are plenty of reasons why, including gender stereotyping and a smaller number of female role models in STEM fields. But one factor lies with how young girls are frequently discouraged from pursuing studies in STEM subjects.
Despite that, many girls are becoming increasingly interested in STEM subjects – thanks in part to the efforts of organizations like CWEALF that develop entire programs to encourage their studies – and it shows.
Young women across the U.S. are developing apps, inventing technological advances, and even working on diagnosing certain types of cancer. Here are a few admirable young women who have used science, technology, engineering, and math to make headlines.
More than 1,600 finalists from 70 countries around the world entered the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. The fair – the world’s largest international pre-college science competition – is geared toward students in grades 9-12. This year, out of the massive collection of entries, Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old student at Lynbrook High School in California, was selected as the competition’s winner.
Khare invented device that can charge a cell phone between 20 and 30 seconds. According to Huffington Post, the “supercapacitor acts as an energy storage device that holds a great amount energy in a small amount of space.” So not only does it have the ability to charge phones with incredible speed, but the device is small and could fit inside of cell phones and other electronics. This innovation could ultimately make it so that we’ll eventually rely on electronic outlets less often
For her work, Khare won $50,000, which she said she will put toward her education at Harvard.
“I will be setting the world on fire,” she said.
Sarasota, Florida, student Brittany Wenger recently developed a computer algorithm to diagnose leukemia. Pretty big deal, no?
The 18-year-old “built a custom, cloud-based ‘artificial neural network’ to find patterns in genetic expression profiles to diagnose patients with an aggressive form of cancer called mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL),” according to Mashable.
Her invention could change the face of cancer – or, at the very least, mixed-lineage leukemia, which typically has a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of only 40 percent.
And this wasn’t even Wenger’s first foray into scientific discoveries: she previously used artificial-intelligence technology to determine whether a breast mass was malignant or benign. It was called Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer.
Wenger’s breast cancer research garnered her grand prize at the 2012 Google Science Fair, which annually collects more than 10,000 entries from young people ages 13-18. She was just 17.
The year before, in 2011, girls swept the competition, a feat Fast Company wrote not only covered, but celebrated. Shree Bose, a 17-year-old girl Texan won the grand prize for her research on the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin; Naomi Shah of Portland, OR, won the age 15-16 category with a study of the effects of air quality on lungs (particularly for people who have asthma); and Lauren Hodge of York, PA, won the age 13-14 category for research on whether marinades reduce the amount of cancer-causing compounds produced by the grilling of meat.
The efforts – and the impact – of these young women cannot be understated. Gone are the days when words like “doctor” and “scientist” and “engineer” are synonymous with male; instead, young women like Eesha, Britney, Shree, Naomi, and Lauren are rising. These girls, like many others when given the right tools and encouragement, are determined, innovative, and smart. So let’s keep pushing young women to think big. When they’re encouraged to study science, technology, engineering, and math, there’s really no telling what they’ll do. They might just change the world.
Crystal Maldonado is a writer by day, and super-feminist by night. Find her on Twitter @crysmaldonado, or check out her new online magazine, Positively-Smitten.com.
In an age when women were decades away from the second wave of feminism and a complete rarity in science, British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958) conducted a series of seminal X-ray diffraction studies that would lead to the groundbreaking discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.
When Franklin first started working as a research assistant at the biophysics laboratory at London’s King College in 1951, there was only one other female scientist on the staff. Working with Raymond Gosling, one of the Ph.D. students assigned to help her, she applied her mastery of X-ray diffraction techniques to decoding the structure of DNA, but conflict in the scientific community was quick to take hold. Over the next few years, as the research was gathering momentum, so was the friction. In early 1953, Francis Crick and James D. Watson of at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory gained access to Franklin’s data without her consent — most notably, the famous Photo 51 — thanks to Maurice Wilkins, her chief rival at King’s, and used it to enhance their own existing research.
So antagonistic was Wilkins’s attitude toward Franklin that in March of 1953, he announced her departure from the lab in a private letter to his friend Crick:Our dark lady is leaving us next week.
The following month, the prestigious scientific journal Nature published an article proclaiming Francis and Crick’s discovery of DNA’s double helix. In it, they made an intentionally oblique reference to Franklin’s work, the core armature of the very work they were claiming as their own:It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.
Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, shortly before her 37th birthday. Despite her pioneering contribution to science, she was never nominated for a Nobel Prize, which wasn’t being awarded posthumous at the time. Her death thus made her ineligible for the 1962 Nobel Prize, which was eventually awarded to Watson, Wilkins, and Crick.
In his 1968 autobiographical account, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Watson repeatedly belittles Franklin’s work. But a recently released illustrated and expanded edition shines new light on some of the controversies.
In lieu of formal recognition on par with the scale of her work’s influence, Franklin’s greatest legacy is perhaps her ethos and her unwavering faith in the power of science as a force of social good. In 1940, barely 20, Franklin wrote in a letter to her father, Ellis:Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation of life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience, and experiment. … I agree that faith is essential to success in life, but I do not accept your definition of faith, i.e., belief in life after death. In my view, all that is necessary for faith is the belief that by doing our best we shall come nearer to success and that success in our aims (the improvement of the lot of mankind, present and future) is worth attaining.
Brenda Maddox eloquently captures the essence of Franklin’s spirit in Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA:She did not find life easy — as a woman, as a Jew, as a scientist. … The measure of her success lies in the strength of her friendships, the devotion of her colleagues, the vitality of her letters and a legacy of discovery that would do credit to a scientific career twice its length.
What a great quote and even more inspirational woman!
(via gender-and-science)Source: thereconstructionists
Marilyn Reece, Civil Engineer
What do you do when you like math but don’t want to become a teacher? You could be a civil engineer, like Marilyn Reece.
She was the first woman to be a fully-licensed civil engineer in California and she’s featured in our May calendar of women trailblazers in science, tech, engineering and math.
Let’s kick off Monday with an awesome woman in STEM!
(via gender-and-science)Source: californiastatelibrary