June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Community Engagement Division
Engagement in Practice: Unlocking STEM as a Career Choice for Middle School Females in a Rural School District
ABSTRACT: The Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS) partnership is committed to removing STEM educational access barriers for middle school females. The partnership is comprised of researchers from a large urban university, two private foundations, a high-tech medical simulation center, and a rural school district. GEMS serves 150 diverse and economically disadvantaged female eighth grade students annually and aims to reduce dysfunctional career thinking in STEM and unlock STEM as a career choice. The goal of GEMS is to provide students with resources and tools so they can individually understand and plan: 1) STEM career and certification options in high school, 2) the path to college and the differences between technical and professional careers in STEM, and 3) entry and exit points on a STEM career ladder over their lifetime. The intervention lasted seven months and consisted of career exploration activities within science classrooms, a STEM career conference led by female executives, and experiential activities on the college campus. Career thinking constructs were assessed pre and post via two surveys. Preliminary data showed no significant change in students’ career indecision and a significant decrease in their career certainty. These findings, specifically the decrease in career certainty, may align with the goal of GEMS to generate female interest in a previously inaccessible, unknown, and unattainable STEM career. Lessons learned include the need for more individual mentorship to elucidate abstract details about job functions and lifestyles in STEM professions and the need to educate economically disadvantaged male students as well. Sparse research into STEM career thinking and preliminary findings from this intervention call for the need to implement STEM career development programs with support and tracking throughout high school. These interventions should not only spark interest in the sciences, but also impart a sense of self efficacy, motivation, and empowerment to females.
Prakash, N., & Tobillo, R. (2017, June), Engagement in Practice: Unlocking STEM as a Career Choice for Middle School Females in a Rural School District Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28241
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