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Equipping an Army of Ambassadors: A Workshop Model for a STEM Career Speaker's Bureau

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Issues of Outreach and Interest in Engineering

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.544.1 - 23.544.17



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Paper Authors


Meagan C Pollock Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Meagan Pollock is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, and is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from Texas Woman’s University, and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she worked as a engineer for Texas Instruments.

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Equipping an Army of Ambassadors: A Workshop Model for a STEM Career Speaker's BureauImmersed in a society that is dominated and driven by work, and vulnerable to social influencesof prestige and gender bias, children as young as five years of age begin to postulate what careerthey will one day have[1]. Young people tend to choose professions that are familiar[2], whethertraditions in their family, or professions that have been exposed to them through education andexperience. Most careers in STEM aren't quite as tangible and recognizable as say a teacher,fireman, or professional sports player, and young women are susceptible to stereotype threat thatwould discourage them from participating in STEM or choosing STEM careers[3]. One way toalleviate both of these concerns is by exposing students to role models, specifically females todispel stereotype threat for young women, in math and science [4, 5], or in general – STEMProfessionals.In 2012, the High-Tech High Heels (HTHH) Fund founded a Speakers Bureau with a mission toinspire and encourage middle school and high school students, especially the under-represented,to pursue careers in STEM fields. Volunteers are requested by local schools or organizations tospeak to students, to serve as mentors, to assist teachers, and to meet the needs of the communityas STEM ambassadors. HTHH believes it paramount to commission an army of ambassadorstrained to be the best and most diverse representation of STEM professionals to students. InAugust of 2012, the inaugural training workshops were conducted as an effort to "Equip anArmy" of volunteers to go forth and: 1) Share with students why we love working in STEMcareers, 2) Explain to students the impact they can have on the world by working in STEM, and3) Show students the diversity of real-life women and men in STEM. Using guided, inquirybased instruction and learning, participants/volunteers reflected on their personal stories, anddeveloped strategies for how to talk to students about STEM careers using correct and positivemessaging[6].Two workshops were conducted, and evaluations and reflections from the first, informed thesecond. This paper describes the workshops conducted, lessons learned, and feedback from bothveteran and new Ambassadors. Results from this paper serve as a framework for other STEMSpeaker’s Bureaus on how to train ambassadors.1. Gottfredson, L., Circumscription and compromise: A developmental theory of occupational aspirations. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1981. 28(6): p. 545-579.2. Parker, W. and J. Jarolimek, Social studies in elementary education. 1997: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Simon and Schuster/A Viacom Company, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458.3. Hill, C., C. Corbett, and A. St Rose, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. American Association of University Women, 2010: p. 134.4. McIntyre, R.B., et al., A social impact trend in the effects of role models on alleviating women’s mathematics stereotype threat. Current Research in Social Psychology, 2005. 10(9): p. 116-36.5. McIntyre, R.B., R.M. Paulson, and C.G. Lord, Alleviating women’s mathematics stereotype threat through salience of group achievements. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology of Education, 2003. 39(1): p. 83-90.6. Committee on Public Understanding of Engineering Messages, Changing the Conversation: Improving Public Understanding of Engineering. 2008, Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Pollock, M. C. (2013, June), Equipping an Army of Ambassadors: A Workshop Model for a STEM Career Speaker's Bureau Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19558

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