June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
15.1389.1 - 15.1389.13
“ADVANCE-ENG Girls to Women: An Innovative Engineering Faculty-Student Mentoring Summit for Underrepresented Minority (URM) Girls and their Mothers” Abstract
As a culturally relevant educational intervention, the ADVANCE-ENG Girls to Women Summit included over 70 underrepresented minority (URM) girls and their mothers (or other adult caregivers) to attend a day of engineering career exploration while interacting with over 60 URM women engineering professors from around the United States. The day was informative, empowering and encouraging, providing an opportunity for middle school girls to meet real women of color who are engineering professors, real women who at one time were girls making a critical move towards an engineering career. The prevailing Summit goal was to attract girls at a critical stage in the K-12 pipeline to engineering careers. The two-day event enabled the girls to take the time to envision themselves in the future, just like the faculty present, and for daughters and mothers/caregivers to connect or re-connect, forging an alliance to sustain the mothers/caregivers through the challenges they will face as their daughters become future women in engineering. A combination of faculty motivational speeches, a three-session rotation through hands-on activities (e.g., making lip gloss) and interactive career sessions culminated in a gala dinner for the girls, faculty/student/community volunteers, and special guests. The girls had continuous interaction with URM women engineering college students as role models throughout the event.
Women are disproportionately represented in engineering professions. Previous research has documented that that there is a leaky pipeline in all stages of women’s career trajectory in engineering. As early as at six-years of age gender stereotyping occurs in the treatment of children, which shapes their perceptions of STEM related opportunities.1, 2 It is in middle school, however, that girls begin to show lower levels of confidence and interest in engineering related fields than those of boys. 1, 3, 4 Additionally, it has been found that girls do not participate in as many science and engineering relevant activities as boys outside of school; hence, extracurricular activities have been suggested as a method of intervention to remedy this lack of experience.
A report by The Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI) entitled, Increasing the Representation of Women and People of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM): Scan and Synopsis of Approaches and Opportunities3 made three points relevant to the initiative described in this paper: (1) The underrepresentation of women and people of color in STEM fields means that few role models are available, and women and people of color are rarely portrayed as participating in STEM careers. Researchers have also identified a fundamental conflict between social definitions of women and of engineering; (2) Intervention supported by existing research: There is a need to support the people of color and women that are currently in positions to be role models; and (3) A lack of role models and mentors in academic environments has an adverse effect on women and people of color in STEM fields. While there are several venues that
Bowles, T., & Grant, C., & Martin, P., & Carpenter, E. (2010, June), “Advance Eng Girls To Women: An Innovative Engineering Faculty Student Mentoring Summit For Underrepresented Minority (Urm) Girls And Their Mothers” Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15966
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