Courtesy of a grant from Intel, a group at Phoenix College is working to collapse outdated gender roles in certain careers by inspiring young students to discover science-based careers.
In year two, the “TEC is for Girls!” program focuses on contacting students in middle school in select Arizona school districts so they can be exposed to science from a younger age. Seven middle schools are now partnered with PC, South Mountain and Gateway Community College to expand the program’s reach.
The structure includes pairing middle school students with mentor college students that are pursuing STEM degrees. All participants are also invited to a TEC (technology, engineering and computing) conference at PC.
During the conference, students will be able to take part in hands-on science activities, tour the campus and hear from Latina professionals who are working in the STEM field. The annual conference provides students with an opportunity to bond with their mentors while becoming familiar on a college campus.
Over the course of the school year, mentors make weekly visit to schools to assist in building content knowledge for students, along with increasing excitement towards TEC careers. A program like this is instrumental in helping increase the number of women in these career fields and making the talent pool more diverse. By working with students from a young age, they are able to expose them to options they may not have previously been familiar with.
Expected performance improvements include an math proficiency rates increasing to 69 percent by the year 2030.
In areas where students are not exposed to possible career paths or how to take the paths, “TEC is for Girls!” helps in inspiring thousands of children. Over 600 students have been impacted during conferences and 200 more have been reached through weekly school outreach.
Data collected through surveys have showed the major benefits of the program as 78 percent of young women view futures as college students, a number that was previously 24 percent. In addition to that, 81 percent are planning on pursuing college degrees in science, while student confidence in science and technology subjects has jumped from 14 percent to 70 percent.