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Need a STEM mentor? Free! September 21, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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Do you have highschool or college-age girls who need a mentor in STEM? Women In Technology Sharing Online (WitsOn) is creating an online community of learners and mentors through the networking platform Piazza. No grades! No pressure! Just a chance to learn or, if you’re a STEM professional, give back to the community a few hours per month (while lounging in your PJs, no less).

Check it out!

https://piazza.com/witson

What happens when that Highschool senior you look up to is a Techno-geek June 11, 2012

Posted by The Raise Project in Career, Women in Science.
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It used to be that, quantitatively, the top reasons women cited for staying away from technology fields were:

*it’s not interesting;

*they think they wouldn’t be good at it;

*they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.

But now that tech is so much more integrated into our daily lives, being technologically illiterate no longer flies. The article finds that the new reasons include:

*not being aware of the economic benefits and impact tech careers can have;

*female students not taking computer science classes, which might spark their interest;

*not having “mentors” who are only a few years older that are into tech. (Remember that Senior in highschool, when you were a freshman, and they were the epitome of cool and the pinnacle of human evolution, with their school savvy and CAR KEYS? Article suggests the more girls get into computers and technology, the more young devotees will follow, and the cycle will continue.)

Read the original here. 

Here’s the Real Reason There Are Not More Women in Technology

Thomas Hawk

Ask someone to tell you the reasons that there are not more women in technology positions and chances are they will point to one of the numerous articles written lately. They usually start with “top 10 reasons why women…” or “break the glass ceiling by…”.  But instead of doing the hard research, they produce the literary equivalent of ‘all flash and no substance’.

To understand the reasons and circumstances of the issue, we must go beyond the pretexts to an examination of the occupational conditions for women throughout their life. And I chose to discuss it with 10 successful women that have all made it to the top of their professions in technical related fields.

Such a view of women’s lives are of course limited by the size of the study, but these successful women each put forth sound, actionable advice for women of all ages. Critical advice during a time where technology has begun and increasingly will permeate every facet of every profession on earth. A career without a technology background is a fatal one.

(more…)

Science Fairs Are Ground Zero For U.S. Innovation January 31, 2012

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It’s easy to get downbeat about the future of science in America.

While Silicon Valley’s tech-savvy continue to drive entrepreneurship in the United States, it surprises few in the country that many U.S. high school graduates leave school without understanding algebra and basic financial literacy. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which assesses the economies of the world’s richest nations, found that the United States ranks 17th in math and science education, with China at the top.

Quite frankly, such results are a national disgrace and there’s no excuse for such poor performance from the richest country in the world.

But I bet those Paris-based researchers drafting up the OECD’s annual reports have never been to a Montgomery County elementary school science fair. For it’s at places like the gym at Rachel Carson Elementary School one night in January that show you just how parents much parents in this part of the world are devoted to encouraging their children to think through ideas and understand the world around them a little bit better. Some insight into presentation and how to engage with an audience too are skills that are cultivated through a science fair.

Of course, figuring out how sugar crystallizes in saturated solutions makes rock candy, or figuring out why certain materials float while others don’t, will not immediately result in better test scores and improve the U.S. standing in global math education rankings. Yet it’s safe to say that there is a direct correlation between young learners being encouraged to think for themselves and being awarded prestigious science prizes down the line.

Take the example of Shree Bose. As a second grader, the Texas girl tried to invent blue spinach for a science fair, and ten years later, she became the grand prize winner of the 2011 Google Science Fair. The 17-year-old’s ovarian cancer research project was supervised by a professor at the University of North Texas who took the teenager on in her lab.

Or Intel’s Science Talent Search program, which awards high school seniors with some of the most innovative scientific research at a level far above that of ordinary students. Montgomery Blair High School has produced the most semi-finalists for the competition to date, with 108 students, while the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has produced 75.

Take a look at some of the projects these students have worked on and be awed. From studying the relation between teenagers and cell phones to understanding the engineering of wind turbine blades to increase efficiency, the topics they analyze are timely, interesting, and in most likelihood, with considerable business potential. The Intel and Google awards are only two of the many hosted by corporations to entice students to get excited about science.

With students like these and companies, schools, and communities to encourage them, I can’t help but believe in the future of scientific education in America. It’s a true win-win relationship for all involved, as companies get kudos for their involvement in nurturing future brains, and recipients get much publicity and accolades as they rightly deserve.

At the end of the day, test scores are simply numbers that don’t really tell the whole story, and the story is that the United States needs creative thinkers who can harness knowledge into business as much as knowledge for its own sake. I just only hope that more resources that got these students engaged in the first place will be available to more kids at an ever-younger age.

About this column: GoTo Mom is a fortnightly musing by a Gaithersburg mother of two who, even after seven years of parenthood, is still trying to figure out how to have it all. She enjoys unwinding at the end of a snow day with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Homeless Teen Named One Of Intel’s Science Semifinalists January 17, 2012

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A high school senior is up for one of the most prestigious science awards in the country, and her story is all the more inspiring because it turns out her family is homeless.

When it comes to high school science competitions, they don’t get much bigger than the Intel Science Talent Search. Roughly 1,600 high schoolers enter it every year, hoping to win a piece of the $1.25 million available in prizes and scholarships. Each year, there are some truly impressive entries by some incredibly smart students, but one of the semifinalists for the current competition is especially impressive: Not only is she still in the running, but she’s also homeless.

Long Island native Samantha Garvey is a senior at Brentwood High School. Her research allowed her to learn that mussels change their shell thickness if predators (like crabs) are introduced to the environment. According to NewsDay, Garvey’s spent over two years conducting research and is one of the 61 Long Islanders still being considered for the competition’s grand prize, a $100,000 college scholarship.

However, Garvey and her family are homeless, and they live in a local homeless shelter. According to the girl, her family’s hardships are a motivation for her to do well in school: “I want to show other people that even if you’re going through something bad, if you do, there’s a better side to everything … I want better, so that’s why I do well in school.”

The fact that Garvey’s circumstances haven’t kept her from achieving such incredible academic success is pretty inspiring. If she manages to make it to the competition’s finals, she’ll receive a $7,500 scholarship and a paid trip to Washington DC and get an opportunity to speak with either President Obama or Vice President Biden. Hopefully she manages to make it to at least that point, but I’m sincerely hoping that she her project is awarded a higher placing and helps her forge a new, better life for herself.

Originally printed in The Escapist by Mike Thompson | 13 January 2012 4:55 pm