Girl Power Group Strives to Connect Young Women with Careers in Math and Science

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Girl Power Group Strives to Connect Young Women with Careers in Math and Science


For decades, weve heard reports that many girls lose interest in science and math as they get older and fewer women than men enter careers related to the disciplines.

Professional groups and organizations like the American Association of University Women long have advocated for greater support of girls who like and do well in the subjects.

The groups sponsor STEM projects for science, technology, engineering and math letting girls explore their talents and potential careers in the fields.

A new organization, the Midwest Girls Collaborative Project, aims to help those who run STEM projects.

The collaborative project is hosting a conference Friday for STEM project sponsors. Participants can gather ideas for projects and increasing participation, learn about resources and mini-grants available through the MWGCP, and even join a hands-on workshop on nanotechnology.

"It allows us to bring people and projects together to share resources," said Linnea High, a member of the Champions Board planning the conference and a member of the Naperville Area AAUW branch.

"We also hope to spread the word about the MWGCP and how it can help individuals and organizations to expand career horizons for girls."

High and Lynn Reha, Illinois leader for the Midwest Girls Collaborative Project and director of the Center for Specialized Professional Support in Illinois State Universitys College of Education, further explain the collaborative project and its goals.

Q. What is your organizations name?

High: Midwest Girls Collaborative Project, a regional program partnership between the AAUW, the National Science Foundation and the Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology.

Q. What is your mission?

High: To help more women and girls become interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially through working with individuals and groups involved in STEM projects.

Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

Reha: The MWGCP provides resources to help organizations conduct activities that invite women and girls into STEM careers. We will have at least one event per year to provide resources and give information about mini awards.

High: Our Kick-Off Conference is a way for people to network, learn about funding and other resources, share ideas for new projects, and learn about getting girls interested in attending STEM workshops.

Q. When and why did the Midwest Girls Collaborative Project start? How has it grown?

Reha: The MWGCP is a sub-collaboration to the National Girls Collaborative Project and has been in existence for about six months.

Q. What kind of successes has the program had?

Reha: A similar project sponsored by the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois State Board of Education through the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support at Illinois State University has been active for seven years. The New Look Project sponsored many similar activities to the ones the MWGCP will sponsor. One example is Diva Tech, a summer camp for girls interested in information technology, at Black Hawk College.

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