'SMART Girls' Addresses Technology's Widening Gender Divide

Published 03.15.2001


While women comprise 46 percent of the nation's workforce, they hold just 18 percent of the lucrative science/technology jobs, according to the National Science and Technology Council.

To counter this disparity, faculty members and administrators at Pennsylvania College of Technology have established "Science, Math Applications in Real-World Technologies for Girls" (SMART Girls), an initiative that will expose middle-school and high-school students to career options in emerging technologies while strengthening their foundation in math and the sciences.

The inaugural SMART Girls event, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, will provide female students in grades 7-8 with hands-on opportunities to explore math and science as they "ground" technology.

Real-world applications will include everything from "A Crushing Experience" (crushing concrete cylinders to determine their compression strength), led by Jo Ann Stephens, associate professor of civil engineering technology; to "Cyber Challenge," (creating Web pages), led by Denise S. Leete, associate professor of computer science.

The agenda includes sessions for parents who wish to accompany their daughters. Students will participate in two, 1 1/2-hour, hands-on workshops led by college faculty.

These laboratory activities will apply math and science concepts to problem-solving activities in technological career fields. Small class sizes will enhance participation and attention.

Parents will have the option of attending a presentation on financial planning for college, led by Phillip D. Landers, professor of business administration, and another on the graphing calculator, led by Nancy C. Bowers, associate professor of mathematics. Parents and students may attend a luncheon featuring keynote speaker Andree Phillips, president of Radiant Steel Products, Co., Williamsport.

Other student workshops being offered are "Computer Demolition" (disassembling a computer and troubleshooting problems), led by Mary Jo Winder, coordinator of Internet services (accompanied by her daughter, Veronica Bubb); "Science of Electromagnetics" (building a simple DC motor), led by Randall L. Moser Jr., instructor of electronics; "Seeing Green" (separating components of a mixture via chromatography), led by Kelly B. Butzler, instructor of chemistry; "Visualizing Mathematics" (using a graphing calculator to graph lines and curves), led by Bowers (accompanied by her daughter, Susan) and Adelle M. Dotzel, assistant professor of mathematics; "The Power of Plastics" (learning about the properties of polymer materials and how the relate to processing applications), led by Anne K. Soucy, assistant professor of plastics technology; and "Risk: What Are You Willing to Take?" (an exploration of the environmental risks facing society), led by Debra A. Buckman, assistant professor of environmental technology.

Working with faculty will be student members of the Women in Technology campus organization.

Students must submit a registration form endorsed by a math or science teacher. A $10 fee will cover the cost of materials and lunch.

A residential session for girls entering grades 9-10 will be offered at Penn College on June 27-29. Students will participate in five, two-hour workshops. Additional one-hour sessions will focus on related activities, such as developing study skills, accessing Internet learning sites and assessing career interest. Evenings will feature field trips and recreational activities.

Housing and meals will be provided on campus. To register, students must submit a form endorsed by a math or science teacher.

Registration forms and other information are available at the SMART Girls Web site.