Getting Teen Girls Interested in STEAM
Celebration of Womanhood Conference Encourages girls to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math/Media
On Saturday June 4th, 2016 United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC) in partnership with Someone’s Daughter Inc. hosted the annual Celebration of Womanhood Conference that attracted over 286 young women ages 13-17 and 50 chaperones from across the State of New Jersey. This year’s conference took place at Kean University’s Stem Building 1000 Morris Ave Union, NJ with a theme of S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, art, math/media).
The conference, funded by the New Jersey Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Committee, is UWGUC yearly event that attracts girls from seven (7) counties to attend a day of learning and leadership. New this year, UWGUC partnered with Someone’s Daughter Inc., as the primary collaborator, because of their commitment to and excellence in educating, encouraging and empowering young girls. Elizabeth, New Jersey native and media personality Karen Civil of The Civil Brand served as the keynote speaker and discussed her experience working with Apple product Beats by Dre and her career in the media industry.
“The shortage of female representation in STEM is not because women are incapable or lacking the ability to succeed but mostly because the lack of exposure, especially for young women of color from urban communities. We were so excited to have over 300 young women registered to experience hands on activities with all female professionals from STEM fields” says Natasha Davis, Founder and CEO of Someone’s Daughter Inc.
Through this conference, both UWGUC and Someone’s Daughter Inc., aimed to introduce participants to the nontraditional career paths of S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, media, and mathematics). Sponsors and partnerships include: Ernst & Young, Comcast/NBC Universal, Provident Bank, PSE&G, Pfizer, Kobo Products, Akzo Nobel, Union County Urban League Young Professionals, Union County Department of Human Services, and United Ways of Northern NJ, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties.
“We were very excited to bring this year’s theme and group of experts together for an experience that is sure to inspire all. Each year the Celebration of Womanhood continues to grow and evolve along with the young women we serve, and Someone’s Daughter has truly brought a fresh perspective on how to impact the lives of each student,” says Juanita Ayala Vargas, Vice President of Programs and Operation at UWGUC.
Students participated in several workshops and panel discussions led by professionals in the S.T.E.A.M. fields. There was also a live surgery presentation from the Liberty Science Center, Atlantic Health System and Mid-Atlantic Surgical Associates. The Girls S.T.E.A.M conference introduced middle school and high school girls along with their parents to nontraditional career paths in science, technology, engineering, art and media. From dissecting an eye and performing live surgery to creating their own cosmetics line and digital technology campaigns, the day consisted of several workshops, panel discussions, presentations and more. Workshops were research-based and hands on that allowed the girls to learn new skills in the STEAM fields and gave real life experiences.
Outcomes of the conference were very favorable. Over 64% of the participants thought the conference was very valuable and over 92 % of the girls said they would use the information they received in their daily lives. Most of the girls, nearly 68%, thought the keynote and workshops were the most valuable portion of the conference.
More importantly, the most significant outcome of the conference was that over 64% of the girls are now interested in a career in science or technology and were exposed to new areas of STEAM.
Leading up to the conference UWGUC and Someone’s Daughter Inc solicited over 50 young women residing in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union Counties between the ages of 13-17, to assist in planning, building and implementing the conference. These young women acted as our Junior Female Ambassadors (JFA’s) who met on several Saturday mornings beginning in February 2016 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., to participate in interactive meetings where they learned how to plan a conference for their peers.
Someone’s Daughter Inc. served as a consultant to coordinate the program and event. Because Someone’s Daughter Inc is a youth service organization, with a wide network of schools and other youth service organizations, they were able to recruit participants who would benefit the most from the conference workshops. They also brought fresh new ideas to the planning of the conference.
ABOUT UNITED WAY OF GREATER UNION COUNTY.
Our mission is to improve lives and build strong communities by uniting individuals and organizations with the will, passion, expertise, and resources needed to solve problems. Our commitment is to change the odds so that all children and their families, regardless of their circumstances, have the same chance to succeed in school and in life. To learn more please visit www.uwguc.org.
ABOUT SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER INC.
We are committed to decreasing teen pregnancy and abortion rates, decreasing high school dropout rates, incarceration, and gang violence while increasing achievement of academic excellence, increased volunteerism, participation in community-oriented events, choosing of healthy and positive alternatives and an overall improved quality of life. To learn more please visit www.someonesdaughter.org.