Educational Equity Concepts, Inc. (EEC), in collaboration with the Directorate for Human Resources and Education at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Academy for Educational Development (AED) requests $100,000 over 18 months from the National Science Foundation Program for Gender Equity for a dissemination project to create a research/action agenda around SMET programming for girls in the informal, out-of-school learning arena. The overall goal of the project is to use after-school programming as a vehicle to both engage and sustain girls= interest in pursuing education and careers in SMET. Specific objectives are to: (1) bring together a multi-disciplinary group of researchers and practitioners in a working conference setting; (2) develop a research/action agenda; (3) develop an action plan to carry out the agenda; and (4) disseminate the conference proceedings to researchers, practitioners, gender equity activists, policy-makers, and funders who are involved in informal and SMET education. Research focusing on girls at this juncture is critical because although there are a growing number of SMET programs, we do not know which programs are effective and which are not, especially with regard to engaging and supporting girls interest in SMET.
The out-of-school learning arena encompasses community and school-based after- school programs; summer camp and Saturday/weekend programs; museum programs; programs at community technology centers; college/university science programs; on-line science clubs and competitions; and programs offered by girl-specific organizations. After-school as an educational field (rather than child-minding or purely recreational) is both new and growing. Moreover, we are moving rapidly toward a technology-based economy where women are an increasing part of the workforce. This conference will take advantage of a ground floor opportunity to create a research/action agenda and inform the development of SMET programs that are free of gender and other forms of bias--race, ethnicity and disability that have traditionally contributed to educational inequality.
The agenda created at the conference will be distributed to a broad audience of researchers, practitioners, gender equity activists, policy-makers, and funders. In doing so, the conference will extend awareness and information about the participation of girls and women in SMET education; catalyze new thinking on the subject; and serve as a springboard for research and action. Dissemination will take place via journals, publications, web sites, listservs, and professional association conferences.