Museums helping minority girls rise

I had to sigh when I read these statistics yet again.  Only three venture-backed companies were made up of all female teams in 2013, and the per capita income of blacks in Silicon Valley dropped 18% between 2009 and 2011.  In addition, women in Silicon Valley make 49 cents to every dollar a man makes in comparison to the 77 cents to one dollar income disparity in the rest of the country.   (These numbers are from the Silicon Valley Index published by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and The Silicon Valley Community Foundation.)

Enter http://www.girlsrisenet.org

GirlsRiseNet_Logo

Objectives include:

Utilize the national network of science centers and museums to raise awareness and broaden access for girls underrepresented in STEM.

Develop linkages between organizations with the common purpose of increasing the pipeline of minority female engineers.
Facilitate translation of gender and diversity research into practice through a unified training program.
Provide ongoing services, access to program materials, and tools to broaden the ability of science centers to provide relevant and engaging programming for girls.

Girls Rise. net has partnered with:

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA
Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, CT
COSI, Columbus, OH
Explora, Albuquerque, NM
Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD
Miami Science Museum, Miami, FL
Kentucky Science Center, Louis
NYSCI, Queens, NY
OMSI, Portland, OR
Saint Louis Science Center, St. Louis, MO
Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, Shreveport, LA

The California Academy of Science has an internship program for underrepresented groups in STEM fields.  The Connecticut Science Center has STEM workshops that fit into the core curriculum, and the Miami Science Museum has a girls engineering competition every year.  Each museum on this list and others throughout the country have seen a need for these types of programs and filled it either through the partnerships with Girls Rise.net, or on their own to service the neighboring community.

Another group to look at is http://www.blackgirlscode.com, a nonprofit organization that teaches programming skills to young women of color and http://shetechphilly.com with study resources and an active calendar of events based in Philadelphia.  Tell Me More host Michel Martin also engages innovative women in tech around the Twitter hashtag #NPRWIT.  The movie “Girl Rising”  about breaking the cycle of poverty and poor education for all girls is currently streaming on Netflix.

Hanan Abdel Meguid of Arab Women Rising says it well.  “I believe that technology is not, for us, another fluff or luxury; it’s an essential creative tool. . .we use the scarcity of our resources to maximize our potential.”  Let’s continue to offer and promote STEM for minority women and girls!

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6 thoughts on “Museums helping minority girls rise

    • Yes, that article is great. It makes me think, “of course! Why didn’t I think of that!?” I love those partnerships. I am looking forward to the time when creating partnerships like this as a full-time job. Also, it does seem that the coding projects on the website are really easy to do and could really lead to other projects. I wonder how projects like these can reach a wider audience. I’m saving this article so I can apply it to projects I’m working on. Maybe something this spring.

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    • It is preposterous that even in this day and age that statistics like this are still truthful. Kudos to organizations, such as those you mentioned, that are inspiring change for equality and, even more so, moving toward equality. My question would be, how could we use this as an instigator to create meaningful programs and experiences in museums to change the cycle of education and knowledge for future generations of children? (How can we change the views? Make sure it is that things like unequal pay grade are unacceptable? How do we move forward?)

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  1. It is unfortunate that this still remains a conversation about gender equality and rights but it is wonderful you are recognizing it in this blog! I find it fascinating how the organization partnered with all those different STEM programs in museums and love that museums are engaging in social advocacy! I wonder what other programs in different museums that concentrate on humanities can initiate that will engage girls in areas of study other than science. That way we are encouraging them to explore all realms of academia and help nurture all their interests!

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  2. I agree it is crazy that we are still seeing huge disparity between genders in STEM careers, income, and other forms of opportunity and prosperity. I am wondering what tenants of community engagement thread through these examples. What makes them true community engagement programs.

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    • You have a good point, and I think I was looking more indirectly. With Yollocalli and the Philly History truck there is instant impact, and with the STEM programs it is about mobilizing a generation. It is also about mobilizing a disenfranchised community. I am too thinking about changing the dialogue. We all have different experiences that we bring to the table that effect how we work, research and design. I would like to see more than one perspective in this conversation and creating an influx of other races, cultures, and genders shape what we create as a society.

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