Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Women and Girls in Science, Engineering and Math: School-To-Work Project (SEM:STW) was designed and carried out by IWITTS to increase the number of women and girls in SEM-related classes and careers through School-To-Work system-building.
As part of the Project, IWITTS produced the interactive teacher training video "School-to-Work: Preparing Young Women for High Skill, High Wage Careers" and accompanying train-the-trainer publications. This video was used in hundreds of IWITTS's WomenTech Training workshops for educators in state, regional and local educational institutions across the country. Donna Milgram, Executive Director of IWITTS, served as Principal Investigator for this joint effort with the North Carolina School-to-Work Office and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
The project's primary goals were:
- Increase female participation in SEM: STW activities in high school
- Infuse gender equity into the SEM: STW infrastructure
Within the North Carolina Demonstration Project, the objectives for the Project's teacher/counselor participants (STW objectives) were:
- Completion of their own training and then training other educators using the Project's materials and methods. This included providing training workshops with continuing education credit for other teachers/counselors, creating and participating in an interactive distance learning broadcast on SEM: STW and gender equity, and conducting a statewide train-the-trainer session for additional teachers/counselors.
- Demonstrating increased support for girls in pursuing SEM: STW activities. This included making teacher/student interactions in SEM classes and after-school activities more equitable, developing linkages with out-of-school math and science resources for girls, incorporating hands-on math and science activities into SEM classes, encouraging girls to consider SEM: STW activities and SEM elective classes, and increasing parental support for their daughters pursing SEM: STW activities.
- Involving parents in SEM: STW gender equity training. This objective included conducting a local cable access television program on SEM: STW and gender equity designed to reach parents, and making a presentation at a meeting of their local Parent Teacher's Association.
Teacher Training Video
Focusing on both college and non-college bound girls, IWITTS developed a video and a set of related materials that could be used to accomplish these goals. We then conducted a demonstration intervention in North Carolina, using a "train-the-trainers" approach in which selected teachers, counselors and STW coordinators were provided a two-day training workshop, a full complement of training materials and back-up support services via email.
These Project participants were then expected to use Project materials with their own local students and also to provide similar training to teachers, counselors and STW coordinators in their local areas. Also during the Project, extensive efforts were made to disseminate the developed materials and to infuse gender equity into state and national STW system building and the SEM infrastructure.
To provide additional guidance for the Project, a 17-member national advisory committee was formed during the Project's first year. The committee included representatives of national organizations (i.e., Association of Women in Computing, American Vocational Association and American School Counselor's Association) and a local principal, teachers, students and parents in SEM classes/schools.
The advisory committee served as an important resource throughout the Project, providing extensive feedback during the development of the video, and advice on recruitment of workshop participants, project evaluation and national dissemination of the Project's training and materials.