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Inspiring Minorities

We are organizing different initiatives to support females in male dominated STEM fields ranging from middle school programming workshop (GIRLS), female only STEM camp (Academy) to statewide organization to provide mentoring to female from k12, university to industry (EMPOWERS). Our latest project is called COVERAGE (Clubs of Vex Educational Robotics to Advance Girls Education) is a pilot project for Kanawha, Lincoln and Fayette counties sponsored by the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation.

Ongoing Projects

STEM Summer Academy for Girls

Group Picture of Girls at the Toyota PlantGirls Participating in Fashion Show at Camp

The STEM Summer Academy for Girls is a weeklong camp for female high school students has been held annually on the campus of West Virginia University Institute of Technology since 2014. This girls-only camp intends to increase female high school students’ interest in STEM and encourage them to choose STEM as their career. During the camp, female high school students conduct science/engineering projects under the supervision of female university faculty. They also visit the local STEM industries and interact with their female employees. The Academy is tailored for girls while not being stereotypical. For example at the Academy, the girls designed and fabricated shoes by applying engineering, and then, they conducted fashion show with their shoes. Post Academy survey feedback indicates a 48% increase in the interest to pursue STEM career.

The sole sponsor of “STEM Summer Academy for Girls” is Toyota Manufacturing West Virginia (TMMWV).

STEM Ambassadress Program

Highschool Students Attending a ConferenceJordan Bowen Mentoring Students
In “STEM Ambassadress program,” first generation female university students serve as the ambassadresses of high school female students.

Our primary approach is creating effective mentorship relationship between female university students and female high school students. All the ambassadresses are selected from STEM majors. Priority is given to first-generation undergraduate students with West Virginia background, such that it would be more natural for them to become the role models of high school students. They will not only help high school female students with their math and science coursework, but also inspire their interest in STEM disciplines. Under the supervision of high school female teachers, the ambassadresses meet female high school students through certain after-school activities.

As a secondary approach, parental and guardian engagement is an integral part of this project. A range of information related to STEM majors (such as STEM job availability and university STEM scholarships in West Virginia) is provided to the parents. Through this project, the adult participants are expected to be more knowledgeable about STEM, and in turn, would play a more constructive role their daughters’ education.

The “STEM Ambassadress program” is sponsored by American Association of University Women (AAUW) and NASA WV Consortium.


Programming Project at GIRLS CampGIRLS Participant with Her Project

Girls Interested in Rapidly Learning Software (GIRLS) is a face-to-face and online hybrid workshop for middle school girls to learn the basics of programming. They will learn about the building blocks of an algorithm and programming. The girls are instructed by female university students who aim to inspire the girls and give them confidence in their ability to join computer-related fields. At the end of the program during a family event, the girls show their parents what they have learned in hope of inspiring them as well.

“GIRLS” is launched as a pilot program to gain the knowledge of what works well and what does not when it comes to getting young girls of West Virginia interested in computers. With the knowledge gained from this program, programs in larger scale will be launched to inspire more girls in West Virginia in computing.

We hope that the hands-on experience programming may make some girls realize that computing is something they are interested in making a career out of. Many of us women in Computer Science wish that we had strong female role models to look up to when we were younger so we want to be that role model for the girls participating in our workshop. We want them and their parents to understand that Computer Science and related fields are not for boys only. We hope to mentor them, give them confidence in their own abilities, and inspire them to be whatever they want to be without the fear of being inadequate.

The “GIRLS” program” is solely sponsored by National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT).

Previous Projects

STEM Summer Academy for Girls 2015

STEM Summer Academy for Girls 2016

STEM Summer Academy for Girls 2017

STEM Summer Academy for Girls 2018