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Inspiring Girls and their Female After School Educators to Pursue Computer Science and other STEM Careers

Melissa Koch, Torie Gorges

Abstract


The dearth of women, particularly women of color, in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is a well-known problem (National Academy of Sciences, 2010). After school and summer programs exist to encourage girls and young women to study and pursue careers in these fields (National Research Council, 2009). From evaluations of these programs, we can learn what program participants are gaining, and if longer-term studies are conducted, we might see that these girls are pursuing college majors in STEM or entering the workforce as computer scientists, software developers, or electrical engineers. But what of the educators who lead the programs? Does teaching girls about STEM change educators’ views of STEM learning and careers? In this paper, we look at findings from one program, a computer science after school and summer program for middle school girls implemented in the United States and Canada, focusing on the program leaders to see if they experience changes in their views of STEM and their interest in pursuing STEM careers. These leaders are generally young adult women of color with little background in STEM who are considering next steps in their own careers. Our mixed-methods approach includes surveys, interviews, and observations as data sources.

Keywords


computer science; IT; after school; girls; women; careers; STEM

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