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October Oozes with STEM News at 
Girls STEM Collaborative (GSGSC)
The Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative is the New Jersey initiative of the National Girls Collaborative Project, a program focused on providing high quality STEM activities to girls. Our primary goal is to strengthen the capacity of girl-serving STEM programs to effectively reach and serve underrepresented girls in STEM by sharing promising practice research and program models, outcomes, products and by connecting formal and informal educators, business and industry in order to maximize the resources that can positively influence our girls. 
As always, this newsletter is for you as members of the Collaborative. It can serve as a forum to promote events and to highlight the good work that you all do, so please let me know what is going on so we can include your program in upcoming issues.
In this issue:
  • Take Advantage of this Valuable FREE Resource: Is your program listed?
  • Featured Program: FemGineer Program History and Outline
  • STEM Seeds Begin to Sprout at Montclair High
  • The Most Common Question from Young Women Engineers? What to Wear.
  • Silicon Chef Female-Focused Hardware Hackathon  
Mike MacEwan
Collaborative Lead, Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative


Take Advantage of this Valuable FREE Resource!
Is your program listed?
The Online Program Directory lists organizations and programs that focus on motivating girls to pursue STEM careers. The purpose of the directory is to help organizations and individuals network, share resources, and collaborate on STEM-related projects for girls. 

When you sign up for the Program Directory, you will enter your program description, resources available within your organization, program and/or organizational needs, and contact information.

The Directory contains program descriptions, resources available within each organization, program and/or organization needs, and contact information. Submitted entries undergo review and verification prior to publication.


Click here to register your STEM program
FemGineer Program: History and Outline




The FemGineer Program began in the fall of 2008 at Heritage Middle School in Livingston, NJ.  Two sign up lists were placed on the lab table in the technology education lab among machines, computers and design areas.  Both for extra curricular activities, one was for the Technology Student Association, the other for the National Engineers Week Future City Design Challenge.  Both are design and engineering related student competitions, both are coed, but there was a noticeable difference between the two lists:  The Future City list had all females with the exception of one.  Upon notifying the 7th grade boy that he was the only male in the group, he promptly asked to be moved to the TSA group.  The group met for the first time with seven eighth graders who promptly noted "We are all girls". They embraced this, created the name, drew a logo and came together as a group.




2008 - 2009 School Year - 7 girls

2009 - 2010 School Year - 18 girls

2010 - 2011 School Year - 34 girls

2011 - 2012 School Year - 54 girls

2012 - 2013 School Year - 65 girls

2013 - 2014 School Year - 68 girls (so far)


About the Competition


The Future City Competition has three main components, a research essay, a computer model and a scale model.  Students present their design solutions to engineer judges.  Each year has a theme.  The theme can relate to any aspect of city infrastructure.  Recent themes have included:  Alternative energy, populations with disabilities, disaster preparation and water management.


Continuation at Livingston High School


Many of the girls have stayed together into high school.  They made it clear that they were more into designing and building for productive reasons than participating in competitions.  Accordingly, they partnered with a therapeutic horseback riding facility in northern New Jersey and designed and build items for their facility including a "mounting block" which are stairs for able bodied people to climb to help a disabled person onto the horse.  Most recently they have partnered with the Edison Innovation Foundation to create experiences for children at the Thomas Edison Historical Site in West Orange NJ.


What makes the concept so powerful?


It is about more than just painting it pink.  To truly excite females at a young age in the STEM fields, two items must be present.  First is social fit.  Girls need to feel a sense of community and belonging in a group.  They do not want to be perceived as different.  By having this group in place, they are assured that they are with like-minded young ladies who share the same interests.  Second, they need to feel a sense of meaning when designing.  By this, I mean they don't want to design for the sake of competition,  nor do they want to destructively test their designs. They want to design and build to improve life.  Regardless of if it is on a global or local scale, they want to add to the community.


Timing is everything. The "FemGineers" form in the early fall when school begins.  They have several months in the technology lab prior to the coed groups forming.  What this does is set up "home rule" for them.  Nobody is going to come in half way through the year and intimidate them.


During any "downtime" in the school day, like before or after school, or during lunch, you will find FemGineers working diligently in the technology education lab.  It has become an incubator for innovation and talent within the school, as well as gender neutral design and construction lab.

STEM Seeds Begin to Sprout at Montclair High
Last year, Montclair High School in Montclair, NJ, launched their Buzz Aldrin STEM Academy to 20 students. The academy, in its 2013-2014 school year, now boasts over 60 students enrolled in various STEM related courses.


The academy functions much like a small college or institute where students focus on a specific STEM interest and pursue studies with wind turbines, bridge building, robotics and more. In addition, studies are project based, teaching students how to work effectively in teams and mirroring real-life work-place culture.


Click here to learn more about the Montclair Times' coverage of the Buzz Aldrin STEM Academy.
The Most Common Question from Young Women Engineers? What to Wear.

Guest columnist Dianne Chong writes that the most common question she hears from young women engineers is "What should I wear?" 


I OFTEN run into young women in early technical careers at conferences and other technology events who are hungry for inspiration and advice. As a scientist, I am delighted to oblige. Seeing more women in technology careers helps young women visualize themselves in those positions. And adding diverse approaches is a major objective for my company, as well as for many others.


Despite my background as a technologist, though, I find that the questions seldom involve matters of science or engineering. No. Undergrads, graduate students and women working their first jobs after college want to know: "What should I wear?" "How should keep my hair?" "How do I fit in with the guys?"


And the most meaningful question: "How do you remain successful while having a husband and child?" Debating clothes and hair may seem superficial, but it reveals the critical challenges women face attaining a technology career and - more importantly - keeping one.


I started with undergraduate degrees in psychology and biology, so I appreciate the relevance, both professionally and personally. When a young physicist asks me what to wear to work, she's not asking for fall-fashion trends.


She's actually asking: "How do I fit in at my office, where everyone else is a man?" The fact that women are still asking these questions exposes a deep sense of not belonging.

The death this year of a fellow aerospace engineer, Yvonne Brill, captured this tension. Brill was a rocket scientist, one of a very few female members of the National Academy of Engineering, and had been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Not only did she face the work-life balance dilemma (starting back in the 1960s, no less), she completely mastered it.


But when she died in March, The New York Times led her obituary with: "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job-to-job and took eight years off from work to raise three children."


The story followed with a revelation that Brill also invented rocket-propulsion systems that put communications satellites into orbit. She had been an inspiration to many through the Society of Women Engineers, where she was active. I, as well as many of my fellow technologists at Boeing who knew her, were disappointed in the implication that her highest life accomplishment was domesticity.


Click here to read the rest of this informative article.


San Francisco-based Hackbright Academy offers 10-week software engineering fellowships for women, and last weekend, on October 5, they hosted their first female-focused hardware hackathon called Silicon Chef. Ladies signed up with teams of 5-7 people. Each team was then given one box of parts and one microcontroller with which to come up with an innovative solution to a problem in the world.


The event was a huge success, with 150 women participating. We touched base with event organizers Liz Howard and Christina Liu to find out more. Liz said, "The event was amazing, 20 teams presented hardware projects using Arduino, Leap motion controllers, and other hardware. We were 80% women, and had an amazing group of mentors that removed barriers for everyone involved." Shannon Spanhake, Deputy Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, even presented Hackbright Academy with a certificate of recognition for their work done in empowering women in programming. Here's more of what Liz shared about the event. 


Click here to read the rest of this article.

Michael MacEwan 
Collaborative Lead  
Garden State Girls STEM Collaborative 
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