Key Themes Emerge from Recruiting Girls Post Workshop Survey

Back in the July edition of the Focus, we brought you a synopsis of FLATE’s STEM workshop for educators. Fast forward five months, and FLATE has compiled analysis/feedback from the workshop that sheds light on strategies educators can/have employed in engaging girls in STEM. An impressive 57% of educators that included elementary, secondary and post-secondary educators/administrators from 13 counties responded to the survey. Outlined below are a few themes that emerged from the workshop.

Starting with areas of interest, survey data identified engineering and any mathematics/science degrees,
environmental/agricultural science, clinical laboratory technology, healthcare, information technology, engineering, robotics and computer science as targeted fields for educators to increase female participation in STEM. Given the importance of role models in shaping career choices, survey respondents considered showcasing women in STEM as an effective mechanism in drawing female students. “I would approach female professors from USF who teach biology or earth sciences to serve as speakers” noted one of the participants. Another attendee pointed to the Great American Teach-In as a useful resource “I will involve them by having them come in and speak to my class, model lessons, and share careers that use their skills set.”

Another dominant theme that emerged from the workshop was incorporating teaching strategies targeted at
encouraging, challenging and empowering girls. To that end, educators suggested offering on-site training for educators, starting an “all girls” STEM club, offering professional development workshops as helpful resources in staying current and ahead of the game. “I think having a club that gives girls one-on-one time to explore STEM careers will serve as an encouragement” noted an educator. Another said “having a poster of male and female students as scientists” has helped students identify themselves with their role models.

Collaborating with stakeholders was also one of the strategies identified as a useful. Potential stakeholders included parents and family members who are already engineers, engineering students and educators, mentors, guest speakers, media, and industry leaders/experts. “We will be inviting environmentalists from TECO & Mosaic and agriculturalists from hydroponics gardens to speak to our science classes” said a respondent. Another respondent hoped to invite female science teachers and community women to serve as guest speakers and possibly mentors for students.

Continuous education/training for teachers to stay abreast of new technologies was deemed highly important
in the educator STEM puzzle. “I will continue to remain abreast of the current research being conducted by scientists, particularly females, which will help me to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers” noted a respondent. Some educators were inspired by the workshop to present their findings about attracting girls to STEM at the Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) conference which was held in October 2013. Additionally, respondents also saw the need to highlight the array of STEM based career opportunities that are available locally and regionally.

Check back with us in Spring 2014 to get updates on some of the STEM educators efforts in their local schools. To learn about FLATE’s award winning STEM curriculum and professional development resources visit the FLATE Wiki page where you will find a wealth of resources. To attend, or host an educator workshop contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.