Adler Planetarium

HOW WE CAN SUPPORT WOMEN IN STEM

Women’s roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics have been making headlines lately, and it isn’t all bad news. From the focus on women’s roles in the tech sector at the White House’s recent United States of Women Summit to more and more groups focused on driving greater participation of women in STEM, it’s exciting to see all the work being done to support women in these fields. Despite these moves in the right direction, we’re still a long way from closing the gender gap in STEM. At some leading tech companies, only 10 percent of women occupy tech jobs. Furthermore, a recent study found that only 11.2% of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women. The numbers are clear – there’s still work to be done.

Initiate a Love of STEM 

First things first. When it comes to STEM education, it’s important to start early. Pages upon pages have been devoted to the barriers to STEM education in the United States. Nine out of 10 schools don’t offer computer programming, and only 37 percent of students enjoy their science class. These issues need to be addressed, but there are also resources for parents interested in inspiring their daughters to explore STEM. In fact, 68 percent of teen girls interested in STEM say their fathers played a key role in encouraging them. From building things with your daughter to encouraging her to play with toys that will spark her interest in science and engineering, parents are on the front lines when it comes to early STEM education.

Create Workplace Opportunities

Despite the fact that research shows tech companies excel with women leaders, a recent survey found that at the top U.S. tech companies only 18 percent of women hold leadership positions. Something has to change – it’s time for men to get serious about encouraging equality in tech. Men in STEM industries can start by helping women network, assisting women in their job searches by sharing contacts and, most importantly, speaking up on behalf of women in the workplace.

Convene as Leaders

Finally, we need to take a step back and think about broader systematic issues barring women’s entry into STEM education and professions. At the White House’s recent United States of Women Summit, Mary Wilson Arrasmith, a high school instructional strategist coordinating technical education, commented, “Create an army of folks around you–counselors, teachers–celebrate those different activities and events. It’s important your leadership be fully engaged in the message of equity.” Meetings like this, which bring together leaders in education, business and government, are a critical piece of the puzzle as we all work together to bridge the gender gap in STEM.

 

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At Teza Technologies, Misha Malyshev and employees have been working closely with organizations that are working to inspire girls and boys alike to develop an interest in STEM from an early age. Through support of organizations such as buildOn, Adler Planetarium and After-School All-Stars, and our involvement with key programs such as Girls do Hack, the Noble Stem Expo, Hour of Code and Junior Research Scientists, we’re hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers and coders.

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A Look at Why Women in STEM are Switching Careers

The science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have historically been dominated by men. Although there are increased numbers of women working in STEM, there continues to be a lack of female representation. It was reported earlier this year that women comprise of just 28 percent of employed science and engineering professionals.

Why Women Leave STEM

For the women that go on to pursue careers in STEM, more than half leave them within a decade, which is close to twice the frequency of men in those fields. There have been many different reasons that have been introduced in regards to this occurrence, one being a difference in values between men and women. Whereas men focus more on short-term items such as cost reduction, hierarchy, and resource constraints, women value accountability, balance, continuous improvement, coaching/mentoring and empowerment. Although men also find bureaucracy and hierarchy to impede their achievement, they are more likely to endure the dissatisfaction and continue working. Women, on the other hand, tend to leave for another career when they encounter unnecessary obstacles in their work.

Another reason associated with women leaving STEM jobs is sexual harassment. This is more prevalent in Silicon Valley, where 60% of women have reported being the target of unwanted sexual advances from a superior and 90% have witnessed sexist behavior at company offsites and/or industry conferences. More statistics from the report can be found here.

Additionally, there is the perception that women do not have the traits needed to succeed in science. In a study done by Wellesley College, women were viewed as having communal characteristics such as caring and unselfish, whereas men were associated with agentic characteristics including competitiveness and courageousness. The study revealed that people tend to associate scientists with agentic characteristics and that women appear to be incompatible with science. These cultural stereotypes are creating barriers for the women of today and future generations of women that aspire to be engineers or scientists.

Shaping the Future of Girls in STEM

In recent years, there has been a push for not only increased STEM programs in schools, but also programs tailored to girls to peak their interest and open their eyes to new opportunities. Misha Malyshev and employees from his company, Teza Technologies, support many organizations including buildOn, Adler Planetarium, After-School All-Stars and After School Matters that provide programs that inspire young children to dream of being future engineers or coders. Such programs include Girls Do Hack, Hack Day, Noble STEM Expo, Hour of Code, STEM CampUs, and Junior Research Scientists. Throughout the programs, girls can gain confidence by supporting each other, build a network of peers and find mentors/role models. It’s through these and similar programs where they hopefully begin to break through barriers – where their thoughts are heard, their actions are admired and they are no longer looked upon as inferior.

The push for STEM education in elementary school and earlier

Recent news shows that middle and high schools are increasing spending on their STEM programs to keep up with the national demand for more scientists and engineers. However, many educators at the lower level are trying to get students interested much earlier.

Last month, President Obama held a meeting with public- and private-sector groups in regards to STEM education, which could start as early as pre-school. Groups included NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sesame Workshop, the Girl Scouts and the Fred Rogers Company. The goal of the “early active STEM learning” initiative is to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math as young as possible and to carry that interest throughout middle and high school in hopes of pursuing a career in STEM.

A recent report showed that for the percentage of students who pursue a college major in STEM (16% for math in 2015), only about half work in a related career. At the same time, the projected growth for STEM careers from 2010-2020 remains higher than the average of all occupations. With baby boomers soon retiring, the need for STEM professionals will outweigh the number of people able to fill those positions. Additionally, the United States is lagging behind on an international scale, ranking 29th in math and 22nd in science among industrialized nations.

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The projected growth in STEM jobs is higher than that of all occupations

Currently, the U.S. Department of Education is working towards a cohesive national strategy for STEM, which includes:

  • improving STEM instruction in preschool through 12th grade
  • increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM
  • improving the STEM experience for undergraduate students
  • better serving groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields
  • designing graduate education for tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Science (IES) is also funding research that will examine how early elementary school science teaching can improve outcomes for children from minority and low-income backgrounds.

On a local level, Teza Technologies and CEO Misha Malyshev are active supporters of nonprofits that work with elementary and middle school children outside of the classroom in urban cities to provide academic support and resources. Many Teza employees volunteer their time at After-School All-Stars, After School Matters, buildOn and Adler Planetarium, where they partner with children to teach them about STEM through different educational programs.

Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month

If Teza Technologies employees could connect a monthly observance to the company’s philanthropic mission, it would most closely resemble Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month. This observance is being highlighted throughout the month of May.

Teza Technologies employees and CEO Misha Malyshev are involved in organizations such as After-School All-Stars, buildOn, After School Matters and the Adler Planetarium. Employees volunteer their time as mentors, partnering with at-risk youth to establish positive relationships and share their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math. Misha serves on buildOn’s global leadership council and After School Matters’ advisory board.

These organizations focus on providing students with additional educational opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, typically catering to children living in urban areas. Past programs Teza Technologies employees have volunteered in include Girls Do Hack, Junior Research Scientists, CampUS and Civic Hack Day. For some students, their first introduction to STEM programs is through involvement with these organizations. Having new opportunities opens their eyes to a future they may not have felt was possible or even worth considering beforehand.

The organizations are not only special for their programs, but for the people involved. Studies show that children, especially those living in low socioeconomic status, are highly influenced by their surroundings and tend to become more like the peers with whom they associate. This is why volunteers that spend time mentoring students can make such an impact in their life. Research shows that youth who are involved in mentorship programs are more likely to graduate high school, have healthier relationships and lifestyle choices, enroll in college, have a higher self-esteem and are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol.

According to the National Mentoring Partnership, there was an estimated 4.5 million young people in a structured mentoring relationship in 2014 in comparison to the estimated 300,000 from the early 1990s. Through a variety of programs, organizations such as After-School All-Stars, buildOn, After School Matters and the Adler Planetarium are inspiring students to become young achievers of tomorrow with the help from role models.

Winter 2015 Recap : After-School All-Stars, Teza Technologies and Misha Malyshev sponsor STEM events

Throughout November and December, After-School All-Stars, Teza Technologies and other partner organizations took part in several great events promoting education and STEM among K-12 students. Here’s a recap of some of the events:

Teza Technologies and Misha Malyshev present Girls Do Hack 2015

Teza Technologies and Misha Malyshev sponsored Girls Do Hack 2015 on November 14th at Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Ninety young women in grades 9-11 from across the city worked with professional women in science, technology, engineering and math to learn the skills needed to pursue STEM careers. Additional partners included YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Junior Research Scientists at Columbia College, CodeCreate, and Ashley Nicollette, STEM Specialist.

Students had the opportunity to apply STEM skills in hands-on workshops throughout the day. Workshops included:

  • Engineering Design Challenge with Adler Planetarium Youth Leadership Council : This challenges was an egg drop with a twist. Participants followed a series of criteria to build custom landers designed to protect their egg from a drop.
  • Powering Gadgets with Solar Energy with Junior Research Scientists : Students learned how solar panels convert solar energy and applied the same principles to build a solar-powered USB charger.
  • Robot Race with Adler Planetarium: Participants learned how NASA engineers program rovers and programmed their own robot before testing it out with a navigation of “Mars” terrain.

 

 

Teza Technologies joins After-School All-Stars for EXKi Cooking Class

In early December, volunteers from Teza Technologies, New York Life Insurance Company and Mondelēz International joined After-School All-Stars New York for a visit to EXKi Park Ave. South for a vegetarian cooking class and Eco Hero workshop. EXKi is a world-renowned restaurant that operates with health and environmental stewardship at the forefront of their business, and specializes in natural, seasonal food. After-School All-Stars students in grades 6-8 spent the afternoon with EXKi Consulting Chef Galen Zamarra, and Executive Chef Steven Mettle learning how to cook fresh, healthy vegetarian dishes. Following the cooking class, award-winning environmental economist Pamela Peeters led a discussion about food and environmental sustainability.

 

Teza Technologies ASAS Exki Cooking Class

 

After-School All-Stars and Hour of Code

After-School All-Stars Los Angeles met up with volunteers from Google for Hour of Code. Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to the basics of computer science that has reached students of all ages in more than 180 countries in the world. As an After-School All-Stars board member, Misha Malyshev supports events like Hour of Code that teach STEM basics and get students interested in coding and computer science.

ASAS Hour of Code

 

More Students Earning STEM Degrees

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more students are earning STEM degrees than they were ten years ago. Despite this, the percentage of degrees being earned by women have dropped. This is problem being addressed through programs sponsored by Misha Malyshev and Teza Technologies through organizations such as After-School All-Stars and the Adler Planetarium.

U.S. News & World Report points out

At the bachelor’s degree level, though, women are losing ground, according to the report. Between 2004 and 2014, the share of STEM-related bachelor’s degrees earned by women decreased in all seven discipline areas: engineering; computer science; earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences; physical sciences; mathematics; biological and agricultural sciences; and social sciences and psychology. The biggest decrease was in computer science, where women now earn less than 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees (18 percent). In 2004, women earned nearly a quarter of computer science bachelor’s degrees, at 23 percent.

From NSC Research Center:

 

Here are some articles by Misha Malyshev discussing the importance of STEM education:

Sponsor Perspective: Girls Do Hack (The Adler Planetarium)

Why supporting STEM education is good for business (Smart Business Chicago)

Rundown of Girls Do Hack 2014 Workshops

The Girls Do Hack teens took part in workshops and drop-in activities stationed throughout the Adler Planetarium museum. The workshops focused on STEM skills including observation, attention to detail, problem solving, creativity, communication, team work, and more. Workshop sessions included:

Robot Races

Participants learned how NASA engineers create se- quences for rovers like Curiosity by programming their own robot. Teens learned the basics of visual program- ming before navigating their robot.

Discovering Food Science Through Candy

In this delicious chemistry lesson, participants worked with a gastronomy engineer to create sweet chocolate confections from raw ingredients.

Mobile Phone App Laboratory

Using the MIT App Inventor, participants learned how to design, create, and test their own Android mobile device application.

Searching for Exoplanets

Participants joined the search for planets beyond our Solar System. Using real data from the Kepler Telescope, the teens looked for their own exoplanets and explored the diversity of known exoplanets using NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets software.

Water Quality Wet Lab

Participants learned about the importance of clean water to civilization and the environment in this hands-on ‘wet-lab.’ Students collected and analyzed data from an observational experiment testing the quality of water samples.

Twitter Activity From Girls Do Hack 2014

A roundup of some of the notable Twitter activity surrounding the 2014 Girls Do Hack event from the Adler Planetarium sponsored by Misha Malyshev and Teza Technologies.