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Increasing the talent pool October 7, 2009

Posted by Connie Chow in girls in science, STEM pipeline efforts.
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Participated on a panel titled “Creating Pathways to STEM Careers: Where are the Girls?”, organized by the Girls Coalition of Greater Boston this morning. Mish Michaels, the meterologist formerly with WBZ, was the facilitator. Her story about how she was hooked on weather in 2nd grade by a hurricane was borne out by a survey conducted by the American Meterological Society that 35% of their members developed an interest in the field while they were in elementary school. On the other hand, Jacqui Boas from Boston Scientific shared the funders’ perspective and personal anecdote of being turned away from maths by a 6th grade teacher, only to find out in business school that her aptitude for it was much greater than she was led to believe.

Pat Driscoll of Girls Inc. of Lynn, Deb Muscella of the Girls Get Connected Initiative and I shared stats, stories and best ways to engage girls, and especially girls of color (who in fact have great interest in STEM). Caroline Parker and Kim Lucas from EDC shared their preliminary findings on factors that promote long term engagement for middle-school girls. Helping girls building connections and relationships and not only their skills in science is key.

Engaging girls is (relatively speaking) the easy part. Keeping them in sci/tech/engineering majors and careers is the hard one, especially since real role models are rare, and overall climate remains less than encouraging.  Highlights are here, bios of panelists are here.

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