Here’s a novel idea: a dollhouse complete with assembly-required furniture and working circuit boards. The goal, of course, is to reach girls where they live, so to speak, and encourage an early interest in math and science. The project, called “Roominate,” is the brain child of three women who met as master’s students at Stanford University. Noting the significant gender imbalance in their classes, Alice Brooks, Bettina Chen, and Jennifer Kessler cast their minds back to their own childhoods — and the gender-neutral toys that entertained them. Alice Brooks’ father gave her a saw, for example.
The trio launched a Kickstarter campaign, which has raised more than $85,000, far surpassing the $25,000 funding goal they had set. Look for Roominate soon for your future scientist in museums and online!
See on www.nytimes.com
The University of Maryland Baltimore County is a STEM machine, due to the vision and leadership of Freeman Hrabowski. Be sure to check out this great “60 Minutes” segment about Hrabowski and his success at making UMBC a powerhouse in the sciences.
Through new partnerships and a recently overhauled badge system, Girl Scouts of the USA is providing more opportunities than ever for participants’ exposure to STEM fields. Given that far fewer girls than boys typically chose STEM-related occupations, the opportunities newly offered by the Girl Scouts could prove valuable.
See on money.cnn.com
Nitya Jacob, assistant professor of biology at Emory’s Oxford College, always dreamed of being published in the prestigious journal, Science. As her career progressed and she made the decision to become a teacher, she assumed that she had next to no chance of making that dream a reality. How wrong she was. The next issue of Science will feature Nitya’s paper, “Investigating Arabia Mountain: A Molecular Approach,” which grew out of a lab module Nitya developed for her freshman and sophomore students. “I want my students to be aware of their biological surroundings,” Jacob says. “It’s so easy to go about life without ever thinking about what’s around you.” In addition to the pending publication of her work in Science, Nitya was also honored with a 2011 Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction for her lab module. Inspirational!
Interestingly, data on patent filings reveals that women are responsible for a mere 7 percent. What’s behind the huge gender disparity? “Men are more likely to be in jobs involving design work or development work… so the ‘D’ in the R&D,” says Rutgers economist Jenny Hunt. “And even within given fields of study, women are less likely to be in those jobs and that also reduces their patenting.” A big part of the difference could lie with each gender’s affinity for risk-taking, with research pointing to men as more comfortable with risk. Same-sex schools can have an interesting effect on nurturing innovation and freeing women to take more risks academically and professionally.
via Marketplace Freakonomics Radio
With women making up only 24 percent of the STEM workforce, there’s a need to examine hiring practices. A 50-page study by the Anita Borg Institute does just that, offering advice on hiring women to high-paying jobs in STEM. The report includes practical tips like concealing job candidates’ names during the screening phase, and including at least one female candidate among those considered for technical positions. It looks at the practices of companies like IBM, which ranks high on friendliness to women. “Everyone for years has been talking about, ‘How do we get more women in technology jobs?’ [This] report gives answers,” says Jarri Barrett, vice president of marketing for the Anita Borg Institute. “We’re sharing with the world how to recruit more women.”
Regardless of whether it comes in like a lion or a lamb, March will usher in National Women’s History Month. Astro4Girls, a project collaboration NASA and the American Library Association will leverage the theme into the STEM sphere. Focusing on middle-school-age girls, Astro4Girls will include activities like astrophotography, telescope-building, creating active galaxies, and learning about female astronomers. The project will take place at nine public libraries around the country, with the hope of expansion into more libraries in future years.
Funded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the National Science Foundation, FabFems is a “national database of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions who are inspiring role models for young women.” It aims to connect students with a network of female STEM professionals, with the goal of increasing career awareness and interest in STEM fields. As the FabFems Project website says, “When girls have approachable role models (women in STEM who see their work as rewarding, relevant, and enjoyable), their impression of what it means to be a STEM professional can change dramatically and they are more likely to pursue STEM courses and careers.” Check it out at www.fabfems.org