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More Faces of Women and Girls in STEM

Last week, representatives from organizations that are focused on increasing participation and performance of women and girls in STEM fields met in Washington, DC to develop recommendations to help improve President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign.

President Obama launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign last November to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Last week, representatives from national organizations that are focused on increasing participation and performance of women and girls in STEM fields held a meeting in Washington, DC to develop recommendations to help improve "Educate to Innovate."

The group brainstormed and identified 10 strategies for improving the participation of women and girls in STEM. The original list of strategies under consideration came from a document produced by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Nontraditional Career Preparations: Root Causes and Strategies.

The 10 strategies identified include:

  • Training for STEM teachers on new instructional strategies that focus on equitable and “hands-on” methods.
  • Training for school counselors to highlight the societal benefits of the STEM professions as well as the high-wage fields of STEM.
  • Training for STEM teachers on new interaction strategies that have been shown to motivate students, especially girls, to study STEM subjects.
  • Cultivating collaboration and leveraging ongoing work by incentivizing and recognizing public-private partnerships.
  • Supporting a National Clearinghouse on research, best practices, materials, organizations, and experts on gender and STEM education.
  • Supporting TV programs and media that spark interest in STEM subjects and counter stereotypes about who works in STEM.
  • Providing customized STEM programs for underrepresented groups such as African American and Hispanic girls.
  • Showcasing role models and mentors to students.
  • Educating parents on the fields, courses, and programs available in STEM.
  • Training for informal programs on new interactive educational strategies that have been shown to motivate students, especially girls, to choose to study STEM subjects.

The organizers of the meeting invited White House and Federal agency representatives to a listening session to discuss these priorities. In addition to a fact sheet that was distributed at the end of the meeting, organizers will be publishing a longer report with specific recommendations in early August.

Representatives of the following organizations participated in the meeting: American Association of University Women (AAUW), Alliance of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Multinational Development of Women in Technology (MDWIT), Milwaukee Public Schools, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), National Girls Collaborative Project, National Women's Law Center, National Center for Women and IT (NCWIT), National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Techbridge, and Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).

“By creating a unique collaboration among organizations committed to engaging girls in the sciences we improve opportunities by leveraging resources and expertise, sharing effective strategies, and filling gaps without duplicating services. Meeting attendees represented organizations familiar with the issues, solutions, and resources and we are working together to maximize the benefit beyond that which one project or community could accomplish”, stated Karen Peterson of the National Girls Collaborative Project. Peterson is partnering with Mimi Lufkin, NAPE and Claudia Morrell, MDWIT to lead this effort.

To learn more about the group’s future activities, please visit:

Irnande Altema is a student volunteer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy