Archive for 'Women in STEM'

Good news! IWITTS awarded NSF grant

I’m so happy to share with you that IWITTS will receive an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant from the National Science Foundation to help increase enrollment and retention of women in community college STEM courses!

The U.S. is at risk of losing its competitive edge because too few students are choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics career pathways, 59% of STEM students in post-secondary education don’t complete their education, and opportunities to innovate are reduced by a lack of diversity. This project will target STEM programs such as computer science, engineering technology, and manufacturing technology where female students remain underrepresented. Community college programs nationwide will be assisted in expanding access to STEM education and career opportunities for women and girls.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, from California’s 13th Congressional District, said, “I am pleased that the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science has been selected to receive this important and competitive funding. It is our obligation to ensure that young women are both encouraged and supported as they pursue studies and careers in STEM-related fields so they are prepared to contribute and thrive in the economy of the future.”

This federal award will allow IWITTS to provide the national community college ATE network with evidence-based teaching, learning, and recruitment practices via the proven WomenTech Educators Online Training. This professional development helps educators to increase enrollment and retention of women (and retention of men) in community college STEM courses throughout the country.

We will also be developing a new, electronic institutional assessment tool to help colleges assess if they are using best practices for recruiting and retaining female students in STEM and a new Women in STEM Toolkit (more details to come). The project will expand the free, online Proven Practices Collection, which brings educators a research-based road map of journal articles, webinars, and case studies for engaging women and girls in the technology classroom.

Here is the official press release about the new project. Please share this news with anyone you think might be interested. We’re excited to be moving forward and we’ll share more updates in the future as the project ramps up!

P.S. Are you ready to get started right now with recruiting more female students in your STEM programs? Download my free report on “How to Recruit Women and Girls to the STEM Classroom”.

IWITTS Celebrates Its 20-Year Anniversary!

A note from Donna: Like Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It!”

I’m happy to share with you that IWITTS recently celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization. So have we fulfilled our mission, to help educators nationwide close the gender gap for women and girls in technology? We’ve made tremendous strides, but there is still so much work to be done.

I have personally worked with inspiring educators like Barbara Dufrain, a computer programming professor who attended a WomenTech Educators Training. In less than a year following the training, Professor Dufrain increased her female enrollment by 62% and increased the retention of her female and male students by 45%.

Our Proven Practices Collection on the IWITTS website now contains over 100 journal articles and case studies with proven strategies from programs which have increased the number of female students in STEM programs around the country. In our own CalWomenTech Project, community colleges received expert support and technical assistance to help recruit and retain women into technology programs where they were under-represented. The Project was highlighted by the National Science Foundation for demonstrating significant achievement and program effectiveness.

The exciting news is that in the 20 years since I’ve founded this organization we’ve identified what works and we have more tools than ever to teach the knowledgebase to a growing number of educators and to support them in implementation. We now have real time training, online training, webinars, support for implementation, posters and banners with female role models and so much more! We have the secrets to successfully recruiting and retaining women and girls in STEM, and our retention strategies work for male students too. However, we aren’t reaching enough educators, administrators and counselors.

Just last week I conducted a WomenTech Educators Training for a very engaged group of IT instructors from across the state of California (and half of the participants were male – yay!). Yet, many of my recruitment and retention secrets were completely new information to them. Why are our secrets still secrets in 2014? During the break, a male IT instructor – who also works in industry – said to me, “I now understand the differences between female and male learning styles, wow, what a difference that makes to me both as a teacher and in my workplace.” My goal for the next 20 years is for our recruitment and retention secrets to not to be secrets anymore. We must expand our work and scale up so that our recruitment and retention secrets are not just held by separate and special programs for women and girls in STEM but instead are the domain of the mainstream education system at all school levels.

So I am asking for your help in expanding our audience. Please help us help educators unlock the secrets to recruiting and retaining female students by doing the following:

1) Send your colleagues this link to my free report: “How to Recruit Women & Girls to the STEM Classroom”

In this special report, you will discover:

  • The top secret to increasing the number of women in your classes
  • Examples of successful outreach campaigns and what made them work
  • Key messages female students need to hear that will get them interested in your STEM programs
  • And much more

Share this link: http://www.iwitts.org/free/white-paper

2) Join the conversation and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/iwitts.

3) Attend our next WomenTech Educators Online Training with your team

At the training, you’ll develop recruitment and retention action plans to increase the number of female students in STEM programs. Come as a team: the more educators you can train in your department, region, or state, the more likely you are to have significant increases in female students in your school’s STEM programs, as well as lasting institutional change.

Find out more about the Online Training

I’m grateful to the IWITTS community – thousands of educators from around the country – who have partnered with us and worked with each other to implement these proven strategies in their classrooms, programs, districts, regions and states. From adjunct instructors to college presidents, and counselors, advisors, administrators, and many others, I’m continually inspired by the dedication of educators who care deeply about ensuring that female students have unlimited potential to pursue rewarding, fulfilling careers in STEM. It’s up to us to ensure that the secrets to recruiting and retaining women (and men) in STEM won’t be secrets anymore.

Like Rosie the Riveter said, “We can do it!”

 

Science Cheerleaders

I recently came across the science cheerleaders site and I love it. They feature real-life cheerleaders who also happen to be scientists. One of the women they interview is an African-American surgeon-lawyer-cheerleader. And yes, as you can see, from the picture above, they are wearing the standard cheerleader outfits. What this website says to me is you can be a scientist and you can be sexy, if that’s what you choose.

Now, this website is going to drive some of my colleagues crazy. They will see this as exploitation and objectification of women. They would prefer the glorification of the geeky nerd girl.

Personally I LOVE geeky nerd girls, however I also love the science cheerleaders, and whether my colleagues like it or not, a lot of girls will identify with cheerleaders more than the nerd girls.

I want the biggest tent possible for including women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – it’s about choice and potential – and if you have to choose to be a nerd girl to be a scientist a lot of young women will opt out. I like the idea of glamorous popular, sexy women scientists as role models and I love this website.

Becoming a female scientist in STEM should not be equal to being a nerd girl. If we ever want to significantly increase the number of women in STEM we will need to have ALL kinds of women joining the fold.

Recently, my longtime dentist, a woman of color, and mother of two, told me that maintaining her femininity has always been very important to her throughout dental school, and she never wanted to be one of the boys.

Lets have a tent large enough for all women to be in STEM – women who want to be one of the boys, nerd girls, cheerleaders, ALL women and girls should be able to work in a STEM career pathway, if they choose, without having to sacrifice their identity.

What do you think?

Gender Diversity in STEM. Why Bother?

How does gender diversity benefit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)?

A key goal in STEM education is “broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens–women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities,” according to the National Science Foundation. Similarly, President Obama’s recently launched “Educate to Innovate” campaign cites, “expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls” as one of its three goals.

Why is gender diversity in STEM important? First, why do YOU think it’s important?, see our quick poll below with a $600 raffle prize (registration for a WomenTech Training).  I’d love your opinion.

Here’s why Donna Milgram thinks gender diversity in STEM is important.

The absence of women from STEM education and careers affects more than the women; it is a missed opportunity for those fields. Women bring a different perspective that shapes and influences STEM disciplines. Research shows that women — as a group — have a greater interest than males in how technology will be applied, in particular to help others, and women naturally have a greater understanding of what is important to and appeals to women.

Here are just two examples of how women in STEM enhance the field from a substantive perspective.

  • Dr. Bernadine Healy, the first woman to direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH), established a policy whereby the NIH would only fund clinical trials that included both men and women when the condition being studied affected both genders. Prior to this requirement, many NIH clinical trials did not include women, and subsequently research recommendations did not take into account the differing biology of women and men, and in some cases made recommendations harmful to women.
  • The Zimmer® Gender Solutions™ Knee, which was originally conceived of by a woman engineer. Nearly two-thirds of knee replacements in the U.S. are done on women; however, until the Gender Knee was developed the model for a knee implant was a male knee, which often did not fit the shape and size of women’s anatomy. The Gender Knee is specifically designed to fit the average woman and is a much more successful implant as a result.

Having more women in the picture will not only help women themselves — it will also help society benefit from their expertise — whether it’s ensuring women are included in clinical trials or developing a prosthetic knee that works better for women. We are all enriched when women fully contribute to the advancement of science and technology.


Take our One Question Poll – Why Women in STEM is Important?.