According to AAUW, there is a national need to get girls involved in STEM. As stated in the application to hold a Tech Savvy Conference, “In response to a nationwide demand for STEM programs, AAUW has expanded the Tech Savvy program for girls through a competitive grant proces. Tech Savvy is a daylong conference designed to develop girls’ interest and self-confidence in STEM, with a simultaneous option for adults.” AAUW Honolulu will be applying to hold its second Tech Savvy Conference on May 21, 2016 at Windward Community College.
AAUW Honolulu would like to continue to change the perception of STEM in middle school girls. As we apply for our second year grant, we are looking for more Branch involvement. The committees to implement Tech Savvy include fundraising, volunteers, marketing and outreach, adult curriculum, and girls’ curriculum. If any member would like to help plan or implement this year’s Tech Savvy Conference, contact Anna Viggiano or Pamela Law for information.
The 2015 AAUW Honolulu Tech Savvy Conference was one of only 15 held across the country last school year. The day began with middle school girls attending self-selected sessions on STEM topics such as computer coding, sea floor archeology, satellites, suturing lacerations, and the chemistry of chocolate. Every girl also attended College Savvy, a mini college fair that had college representatives from 14 different colleges and organizations asking the girls about their goals in order to help them with future plans. In the afternoon, the girls had a presentation at the planetarium and attended sessions on communication, leadership, finance, goal setting, and critical thinking.
Meanwhile, the parents had presentations geared specifically to them. Those sessions included: Why So Few, the AAUW report on the scarcity of women in STEM fields and ways to increase girls’ interest in these fields through education and opportunities to meet women in these fields; a panel discussion on the definition of STEM; an overview of college applications and financial aid; and a hands-on experience learning about design thinking.
At the end of the day, parents and girls heard a stirring keynote address given by Stephanie Kainoa Steuri, Miss Hawaii 2014. Stephanie’s platform was helping to grow STEM careers across the nation. This keynote highlighted the transformation of perception that the conference was intended to make. Microsoft, one of our partners, had set up a bank of tablets for registration and survey responses. At the beginning of the day, the girls were asked to type a word describing Miss Hawaii. Then after her keynote, they wrote a word again. Comparing the two word-clouds that were created shows how perceptions were changed during the conference.