AAUW Sponsors STEM Camps for Girls in Early Teens in Four States

Editor’s Note: This article is from the American Association of University Women.  It is the first post in a new category for us called Women in Honors.

Four Camps Launch Nationwide This Summer

By Katie Broendel, broendelk@aauw.org

WASHINGTON – The American Association of University Women (AAUW) will offer four Tech Trek camps across the country this month to encourage girls to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The camps will engage approximately 160 girls from Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, and Washington state.

Tech Trek has grown from one camp in California in 1998 to 10 successful camps on eight college campuses throughout the state today, and AAUW is now expanding the program nationally. Campers, who are about to enter the eighth grade, stay on college campuses for a week and perform experiments and other hands-on activities and interact with women role models who work in STEM fields.

Attendees are nominated by their seventh grade math and science teachers, and many come from populations where STEM careers may not be an obvious choice. AAUW member volunteers fundraise to subsidize the cost of the camps for campers, and families pay just a nominal fee for girls to attend and participate. AAUW’s commitment ensures that girls will be able to have this empowering experience no matter their socioeconomic status.

The national expansion of Tech Trek camps was inspired by AAUW’s 2010 research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which made recommendations for helping more girls develop an interest and persist in pursuing STEM careers.

“To be globally competitive, the United States needs more people going into STEM fields,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman. “As 50 percent of the overall workforce but less than 25 percent of the STEM workforce, women need to be the focus of efforts to increase STEM participation in the United States. Encouraging an early interest in STEM for girls makes all the difference. Eighth grade is when a girl’s interest can be either lost or enhanced for a lifetime. We want to make sure these girls know that they can be successful, and we hope that inspiring them leads to more women in the STEM pipeline.”

AAUW supports women and girls in STEM through research, funding, and programs like Tech Trek and Tech Savvy. Tech Savvy, a daylong program created eight years ago by the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch, works to expose young women to opportunities and careers in STEM fields though fun, hands-on activities. Like Tech Trek, Tech Savvy has seen great success, and it is expanding to 10 new cities.

AAUW will host an interactive exhibit at a STEM fair on July 17 on Capitol Hill. The event is co-hosted by Women’s Policy Inc. and the leadership of the congressional women’s caucus. The AAUW exhibit will highlight the findings and recommendations of our Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics research, which explores the environmental and social barriers to women’s participation in STEM.