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Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation: Engaging Girls in STEM

Session 1
Jennifer L Scheffer, Mira Mehdi, Cat Hoyt, Kristin Johnson, Kelsey O'Brien — ISTE- Digital Citizenship PLN, Mass CUE

Currently, there is a shortage of women pursuing STEM based degree programs, resulting in a shortage of women in STEM based careers. It is crucial that educators find ways to empower and nurture the young women of today and provide them with skills, knowledge, and confidence to be the great thinkers, makers, and creators of tomorrow. Join Instructional Technology Specialist Jennifer L. Scheffer and four of her female students for a critical conversation about how we can close the innovation gender gap and engage young women in STEM related courses. Under Jennifer's leadership, she has been able to bring four exceptionally talented women into the Student Technology Innovation and Integration course at Burlington. She plans to continue to recruit, inspire, and develop female STEM leaders. Her passionate and "grit driven, learn by failing and doing" approach has resonated with girls and the results have exceeded her expectations. There are still many challenges ahead in closing the gender gap, but a frank conversation about the realities of girls in STEM and what we can do to get them on a level playing field with their male counterparts is an essential first step. Jennifer will share curriculum best practices, but more importantly, she will share the voices of her female students. Each young lady, all high school seniors, will explain her reasons for joining the Technology Innovation course as well as her intended career goals. They will discuss the obstacles for girls in STEM and offer strategies for helping girls realize STEM is a viable and exciting potential career path.

Conversational Practice

While we do plan to bring a presentation of slides, the purpose of the slides will be to share student work exemplars as well as resources for session attendees. We plan to design this conversation as a spontaneous and interactive discussion. We will provide a platform to exchange ideas, ask questions of the student panelists, and will curate all that is shared using a Google Doc or a similar tool. We would also like to give participants the opportunity to actually SEE the innovative work student panelists have done through live demonstrations. This may include demonstrating an augmented reality experience or a live Google Hangout On Air. The ultimate goal is to share as much student voice as possible, as that will be the most powerful.

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