Out-of-School-Time STEM Programs for Females: Implications for Research and Practice
reviewed by Jamaal Young & Jemimah L. Young - May 10, 2018
Title: Out-of-School-Time STEM Programs for Females: Implications for Research and Practice
Author(s): Lynda R. Wiest, Jafeth E. Sanchez, & Heather Glynn Crawford-Ferre (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681238438, Pages: 192, Year: 2017
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Women remain an untapped resource for increasing and sustaining a diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. They represent 50% of the U.S. population and more than 50% of the college-bound student population (National Research Council, 2013); they also hold 50% of jobs overall (Bean et al., 2014). However, women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs, with the disparity being more pronounced in some STEM disciplines compared to others. According to the National Science Foundation (2016), 35.2% of chemists are women; 11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women; 33.8% of environmental engineers are women; 22.7% of chemical engineers are women; 17.5% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are women; 17.1% of industrial engineers are women; 0.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women; and 7.9% of mechanical engineers are women. These data indicate that certain STEM career paths are more welcoming to female professionals than others. Many suggest that it is important that a more diverse population of female learners be afforded more opportunities to engage in STEM enrichment activities outside of the traditional school setting. After school programs and summer camps dedicated to meeting the unique needs of girls can provide these opportunities, however, literature describing the content, contexts, and effects of these programs has remained elusive.
In Out-of-School-Time STEM Programs for Females: Implications for Research and Practice, the editors present a series of chapters detailing out-of-school-time (OST) STEM programs specifically aimed at young women. The chapters discuss implications for researchers as well as educators and administrators based on data gathered from seven programs, each with a distinct content emphasis, geographic location, and context.
The book is organized into nine parts, which include an introduction, seven chapters describing individual programs, and a conclusion. The introduction builds a case for the OST STEM programs focused on female learners. The editors highlight pertinent studies from the field and provide the reader with necessary common knowledge, definitions, and the preferred terminology used in the text. The authors also present the chapter structure, which consists of three components: program description, program effectiveness, and practical implications. This is a nice consideration for readers and helps to add a degree of coherence across the remaining chapters. Unfortunately, several chapter authors do not utilize these specific headings, which is somewhat problematic if the reader seeks to compare the programs presented in the book.
Chapter One describes the Las Chicas de Matemáticas program. The program is described as a free residential summer camp offered to 32 high school girls in Colorado. The purpose of the camp was to introduce high school girls to college life, collegiate mathematics, STEM careers, and female role models. Chapter Two describes the Matherscize program, which is described as free summer day camp offered to middle-grade girls at a Midwestern research university. The purpose of the camp was to better understand and support the girls mathematics experiences. Chapter Three describes the Techbridge program, which offered designed-based activities to predominantly African American, Latina, and English language learner students grades 4-12 with the goal of making STEM more accessible to a diverse population of learners. This chapter is a good read for researchers and OST STEM designers dedicated to cultural and ethnic diversity. Chapter Four describes the UNO Eureka! STEM program. The program is described as a four-week intensive STEM program for girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds held at the University of Nebraska (UNO). Chapter Five describes the Northern Nevada Girls Math and Technology Program, a one-week overnight camp held at the University of Nevada, Reno to address female students negative dispositions towards mathematics and technology. Chapter Six describes the Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science (GOALS) for girls program. This year-long program included an initial six-week summer program at a museum, year-round weekend STEM enrichment opportunities, and an opportunity for an internship. The final program discussed is the All Girls/All Math seven-day summer camp for high school girls, which is a described as competitive and featured a course in cryptography along with other self-contained mini-courses.
The final chapter of the book provides the perspectives of the editors and their general reflections on the overarching themes of the book. The programs discussed are diverse in terms of content, population of interest, purpose, and effectiveness. Several camps focused exclusively on mathematics, while others had more of an integrated STEM approach. Several programs had an explicit dedication to dually marginalized female students, including girls of color, students experiencing poverty, and English language learners. This is important, as these girls face additional challenges navigating the STEM pipeline. Some of the programs were designed to support the development of STEM content knowledge, while the majority emphasized more holistic learning objectives and program goals. Overall, the programs were all successful at meeting most of their goals, however, this was more apparent in certain chapters than in others. That said, this book fills a major void in the literature by providing research and practical implications for the implementation of OST STEM to support the needs of female learners. In effect, the book helps to move STEM professions and education one step closer to gender achievement parity, equal access, and higher expectations for all learners.
Bean, K., Buch, K., Dahlberg, T., Barnes, T., Rorrer, A., & Cagley, L. (2014). An innovative partnership between national and regional partnerships: STARS meets mcpie. PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement, 3(2), 119130.
National Research Council (2013). Monitoring progress toward successful K-12 STEM education: A nation advancing? Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (2016). Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2013 (Special Report NSF 13-304). Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/