GirlTECH Aims to Attract Girls to Math, Science Fields
Source: Rice News, July 27, 1995
It's known as the pipeline problem. Young women are entering universities in math, engineering and science programs, but far fewer are graduating in those fields, and even fewer are found in Ph.D. programs. One cause is thought to be rooted in attitudes formed by teacher influences in grade schools.
A prototype program called GirlTECH seeks a remedy by bringing technology and awareness of gender equity issues into elementary and high schools.
This summer, the Center for Research on Parallel Computation (CRPC), in collaboration with Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP) and the Houston Independent School District, launched GirlTECH, a training program for K-12 teachers to help girls become more confident with technology. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to encourage girls to consider careers in mathematics and science.
"This year the CRPC began to look at programs for women to help overcome gender barriers, whether perceived or real," Kathy El-Messidi, associate director of external relations at CRPC, said.
"The problem really starts in grade school, when attitudes about math and science are formed," said Debbie Campbell, technical coordinator, external relations at CRPC. "It is believed that influences come from teachers and primary role models, such as mothers. We can do something about the teachers."
The one-year prototype program featured a four-week teacher training program, which took place at The Rice School/La Escuela Rice in June. Siva Kumari of The Rice School and Alice McKay, a teacher at Clear Creek High School, trained a core of 22 Houston-area teachers in gender issues and computer technology, such as how to use the Internet.
First priority was handing out 22 IBM notebook computers with internal modems and Internet software to assist the teachers in developing teaching materials. In turn, the teachers will take their laptop computers and the information they learned back to their schools to be used in classrooms, workshops and conferences this fall.
As part of the program, the core teachers presented the material to 100 additional teachers at a RUSMP workshop.
"It is estimated that those 122 teachers will impact at least 30,000 students in the Houston Independent School District in the first year," said Cynthia Lanius, GirlTECH project manager and associate director of RUSMP.
The Rice Women in Computing student organization is also involved in the project, and will provide presenters and mentors for the younger students.
To focus GirlTECH issues in the classroom, Lanius proposes student councils be established at each school to offer activities and support.
If the prototype is successful, Campbell hopes that NSF funding will continue over the next three years, with funding for Houston in 1996, for the state in 1997 and for the nation in 1998. She also hopes that the program will motivate more school districts to provide access to computers and the Internet.
By training teachers directly and getting the program into the classroom, El-Messidi hopes to "have the schools clamoring for Internet access."
Affiliations | Leadership | Research & Applications | Major
Accomplishments | FAQ | Search | Knowledge &
Technology Transfer | Calendar of
Events | Education
& Outreach | Media
Resources | Technical Reports &
Publications | Parallel Computing Research Quarterly Newsletter | News Archives | Contact
Sites & Affiliations | Leadership | Research & Applications | Major Accomplishments | FAQ | Search | Knowledge & Technology Transfer | Calendar of Events | Education & Outreach | Media Resources | Technical Reports & Publications | Parallel Computing Research Quarterly Newsletter | News Archives | Contact Information