The The Kean University Women into Science and Technology (WIST) project is an outreach program to support and mentor high school girls in science and technology. The project aims to attract and retain women in mathematics, science and technology courses through a multilevel activity, networking and mentoring program. This program includes female undergraduates, industrial scientists, academic scientists, and high school girls and their teachers. The goals are to encourage high school girls to persevere in science, mathematics and technology courses, and to consider pursuing careers in these fields. The program also gives Kean University undergraduates a unique opportunity to act as mentors for high school girls while interacting with professional scientists.
For the past eight years the WIST Career Activity day has hosted more that five hundred ninth grade high school girls and their teachers, women scientists and engineers from industry and academia, and Kean University science faculty and undergraduates. The high school girls participate in hands-on activities by attending three workshops conducted by professional women already established in their careers. Careers represented range from actuarial science to zoology. Interactive workshops include making new medicines and chemical products, exploring the internet, teratology (the study of deformities in organisms), cytology (the study of cell chromosomes), and neurology (study of the brain). Industrial scientists that participate are from local companies that include the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Educational Testing Service, Exxon Chemicals, Lucent Technologies, Sanofi-Synthelabo Research and Ernst & Young LLP. Academic scientists and undergraduate women are from Kean University. High schools that have participated include Abraham Clark High School, Roselle; Benedictine Academy, Elizabeth; Belleville High School, Belleville; Frank H. Morrell High School, Irvington; New Providence High School, New Providence; Hillside High School, Hillside; Plainfield High School, Plainfield; University High School and Weequahic High School, both in Newark; West Orange High School, West Orange; and Union Hill High School and Emerson High School, both in Union City. Our next Career Activity Day is on Friday March 4, 2005, This year we welcome Jonathan High School from Springfield.
The first annual WIST Experience at Kean was held on October 27, 1998. It brough together 11th grade girls and their teachers for a day of close interaction with Kean female faculty and Kean female science students.
Our fall program, for eleventh grade girls, was established three years ago. The goal of WEK is to maintain a relationship with the ninth graders as they progress through high school. The girls that participated in the ninth grade Career Activity day are invited to return to Kean University to participate in a panel presentation. About five women who have already established a career or are in the process of doing so are invited to speak to the girls for about 10 minutes each. They describe what their professional life is like and what made them decide to pursue their chosen field. They discuss the education that they needed and what other attributes are required to succeed in their field. There is a question and answer session so that the high school girls and the undergraduate women can participate. All participants have lunch together to further foster networking. The ultimate goal is to foster relationships between the eleventh graders, Kean undergraduate women, scientists and faculty that will encourage them to pursue science and technology careers.
Science faculty, assisted by Kean University undergraduate women, visit high schools and present science and technology workshops to the girls who have participated in a WIST Career Activity day. The goal is to keep the girls interested and persevering in mathematics, science and technology and form their own clubs and support groups. As we bring in more girls through the program, this mentoring experience also will change the culture of the high school with respect to the participation of girls in science and technology courses.
Funding from various sources (for example, Sanofi Synthelabo Research, KU Strategic Initiatives Fund, Schering-Plough Corporation, and Unilever US for 2001-2002) has allowed WIST to run the above programs. It provides for supplies, food services, and personnel.
These include educational supplies, office supplies and printing. Educational supplies pays for workshop materials that are needed by the presenters. Printing pays for three publications that are distributed to all participants each year. Two of these publications are the program details of the Career Activity Day and the Experience at Kean Day. The third publication is a newsletter containing information about the two programs for that year and comments, poems, stories and writings from the students who participate that year. The supplies fund also pays for any copying, mailing and general office supplies needed.
Food Services Funding provides lunches and breakfast for all participants of both the Fall and Spring programs. It also provides for a teachers luncheon that we host for the high school teachers and the WIST directors in January. This luncheon allows for feedback from the teachers and it allows the directors to give more specific information and directions about the Spring program.
Funding provides for small token stipends given to the workshop presenters and stipends to the KU undergraduate women who help in the workshops. Funding also provides for release time to the project directors.
The high school girls are given evaluation forms to complete. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) they are asked to rate: the organization of the day, length of sessions, overall program, as well as each workshop they attended as to the level of interest, preparedness of the presenters, and usefulness of information. For the 1999 Career Activity Day program, the average score for organization of the day was 4.7, length of sessions was 4.3, and overall program was 4.6.
Twenty five percent of the high school girls in the 11th grade program indicated that they had been participants in the 9th grade program and had stayed in math and science throughout high school.
KU undergraduates expressed their commitment to remaining in math, science and technology courses specifically because of interactions with faculty and other students gained through their WIST experience.
KU faculty found WIST to be a satisfying project because of the mentoring opportunities, and `cohesiveness that has developed with colleagues from various departments.
|Dr.Nadinia Davis||Dr.Marie Foley||Dr.Susan Hanh|
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