This spring, as part of the #IAmAWomanInSTEM initiative launched in partnership with the American Association of University Women, several faculty and staff are teaching a 2-credit course, UK300: Leadership and Service Learning for the #IAmAWomanInSTEM Initiative. In addition to regular class events and assignments, the #IAmAWomanInSTEM student ambassadors who chose to enroll in this class are creating a research-based field experience in partnership with their assigned #IAmAWomanInSTEM mentors. The hours and learning days spent on this project are arranged by the students and their mentors. Students are expected to work in small groups to plan the project, research additional information and implement on-site visits with their mentors, discussing what has been learned, and development of digital materials (either for a social media campaign using the #IAmAWomanInSTEM hashtag or for upload to the IAmAWomanInSTEM.org website).This is a list of the service projects that are being planned for the community of UK undergraduates, focusing especially on the needs and experiences of women in STEM-related majors/minors, and the faculty/staff that support them.
Thursday 11 a.m. Group with Ms. Brittany Rice – a digital project featuring women in STEM at UK (their mentors, faculty, peers), similar to the “Humans of New York” or “Humans of UK” projects; will focus on the questions of diversity and bias raised by their course co-facilitator, Brittany Rice; will use the #IAmAWomanInSTEM Instagram & Google account to create a Facebook community page and will also think about creating a student organization so to keep the content creation going over the years.
Thursday 4 p.m. Group with Drs. Thushani Roderigo-Peiris & Randolph Hollingsworth – a digital project centered in Tumblr (using the #IAmAWomanInSTEM account) to raise awareness about women in STEM at UK, and using SnapChat to get brief videos going; also have an event on campus with a whiteboard where passers-by can give their feedback on issues of gender and STEM at UK – will order stickers of the logo to hand out to everyone to put on their laptops etc
Wednesday 1 p.m. Group with Dr. Ellen Crocker – We are asking girls/women what they want to be when they grow up and having them writing their responses on a white boards that we then take videos/pictures of. We plan to use the video to post on social media and with the pictures we will make a collage and post flyers around campus. An example of where this project is going, featuring women at out last Meet-and-Greet #2.
Wednesday 4 p.m. Group with Dr. Thushani Roderigo-Peiris – We are still in the planning stages of our group project, but we have reached out to Dr. Christia Spears-Brown (our speaker at the February meet-and-greet) about helping her with some aspect of the Center for Inequality and Social Justice that she is getting started up at UK. We are still talking with her about the specific role our group will play in the Center, but are hoping to nail something down soon
Wednesday 11 a.m. Group with Dr. Thushai Roderigo-Peiris – We are looking into the complexities of designing an app that could have tips on succeeding in STEM, as well as an area for assignments and due dates. We also discussed having cutouts of the IAmAWomanInSTEM logo posted in the various science building around campus where women can write anything motivational, whether it be their own inspiring story, a quote that motivates them, or a piece of advice they want to offer other women. We thought the first wave could be filled out at the meet-and-greet.
Friday 10 a.m. Group with Dr. Madushi Raththagala – We are working on a website that will incorporate many different aspects of media into it. We will be writing a few short articles, and also creating a few short videos involving women in STEM, geared towards those on campus, and potentially including them into the videos as well. We also have a section to give various facts about women in STEM, or questions that are frequently asked. There will be a page that links all of the IAmAWomanInSTEM social media sites and contact info onto it for others to have access to. We are considering allowing some of the videos/articles to be the stories of various women in STEM across campus, to help get their stories out of being underrepresented in these majors. Also may include statistics about the lack of women in these fields on the site under the facts in order to raise awareness of how few women there are.
Friday Noon Group with Dr. Madushi Raththagala –We are planning a photo/video project inspired by #ItooamHarvard. This photo campaign was undertaken by students of color at Harvard, where they took pictures with a small white board with things that had been said to them that made them feel like they don’t belong. We are considering doing something similar, but with things that women have heard about making a career in STEM difficult for women. We are also going to ask them why they are pursuing/passionate about STEM, as we want the ending to be encouraging. We are also going to include statistics we’ve learned in class and include pictures of women in mostly empty classrooms to show how many women are missing from STEM fields (for example, 14 percent of Computer Science degrees are women, have a classroom where 14 percent of the chairs have women in them). We can post this on our Youtube channel, and tweet the individual photos (with #IamawomaninSTEM), encouraging women from other institutions or working to share their experiences too. Our hope is that this will bring awareness to our own campus about the lack of women in STEM and why, while, since it is a social media campaign, it might bring a broader awareness to the missing women nationally, or even globally.
UPDATE: On Saturday, April 16th Shelby Albers, a math major and member of the #IAmAWomanInSTEM Steering Team, presented on the initiative at the Kentucky state convention of American Association of University Women (AAUW). Her slides are available for download here (.pdf file).