APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Research and a positive youth development perspective form the basis of the Girls Inc. programming purpose, philosophy, and approach. Systematic evaluation of the Girls Inc. approach and core programming is a hallmark of the organization, showing that girls and young women who participate in comprehensive Girls Inc. programming benefit in many ways. For three decades, Girls Inc. has applied our approach to STEM education for girls.
Currently, the Eureka! program addresses girls in grades 8-10 who are not only at high risk of losing interest in STEM, but are also beginning to set educational directions and identify future course work. The expansion of Eureka! will extend the length of the program to five years to provide support to girls in grades 11-12, including college preparation, to retain a focus on higher education and STEM careers.
To increase the numbers of communities and girls benefiting from Girls Inc. STEM education through Eureka!, Girls Inc. plans to:
-Secure funder(s) to support an update and expansion of Eureka! while monitoring funding commitments
-Partner with organizations offering resources and expertise in STEM, sports, and personal development while monitoring signed agreements and tracking partners' involvement
-Use interviews from affiliates with a strong track record of implementing Eureka! and technical assistance of partner organizations to update the implementation guide and training protocols for Eureka! while monitoring documentation of interviews and technical assistance and drafting implementation guide and training protocol
-Provide resources and training to 6-8 additional affiliates annually to implement and sustain Eureka! while monitoring annual survey data
-Track/evaluate short-term and intermediate outcomes of Eureka! participation while evaluating expert observation of activities; measures of participant knowledge and skills; participant, parent, and facilitator surveys
-Promote and provide support for implementation of Eureka! to all member organizations while monitoring girls participation through annual survey
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Girls Inc. will implement the commitment in concert with the four affiliates currently delivering Eureka! and an additional 24-32 affiliates. We expect to sustain girls in the program through high school graduation and will add new girls to the program each year, following the plan below. Note: Girls Inc. will commission external evaluation experts to observe/record program implementation and surrounding processes and analyze data throughout the process, recommending changes to the program guide and evaluating short-term/intermediate outcomes.
Year One: 360 girls/10-12 affiliates
-Monitor program implementation at four affiliates currently implementing Eureka!
-Update/revise the implementation guide and training protocols for Eureka!
-Recruit/train 6-8 additional affiliates to begin implementation in Year Two.
-Develop/post engaging STEM activities and resources for girls and parents on www.girlsinc.org (ongoing).
Year Two: 720 girls/16-20 affiliates
-Begin implementation of revised curriculum at affiliates from Year One.
-Recruit/train 6-8 additional affiliates to begin implementation in Year Three.
-Conduct /post profiles of and interviews with women in STEM careers (ongoing.)
Year Three: 1,320 girls/22-28 affiliates
-Continue implementation at affiliates from Year One.
-Begin implementation at affiliates recruited in Year Two.
-Recruit/train 6-8 additional affiliates to begin implementation in Year Four.
-Continue online work as noted above.
Year Four: 2,040 girls/28-36 affiliates
-Continue implementation at affiliates from Years One and Two.
-Begin implementation at affiliates recruited in Year Three.
-Recruit/train 6-8 additional affiliates to begin implementation moving forward.
-Continue online work as noted above.
Years Five - Eight will see the completion of the final cohort of girls and allow us to finalize the evaluation. Girls Inc. will continue to promote and provide support for the ongoing implementation of Eureka! throughout the Girls Inc. network and with partner organizations, making any adjustments necessary to ensure that the program is effectively helping girls pursue higher education and achieve success in STEM careers.
Over the past 30 years in the United States and Canada, information from the Education Commission of the States (2007/2010) and the National Science Foundation (2008) clarifies that women have vastly increased their proportion of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees earned in math and in the sciences. At the same time, however, substantial gaps remain. Girls continue to lag behind boys, in course enrollment and advance placement exam participation, in specific STEM subjects such as computer science, physics, and math, based on reviews by The College Board (2010) and the Fraser Institute (2010).
Of greater concern is the fact that gains in education have not translated into workplace parity as of yet. Women still represent fewer than one in five faculty members employed in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and the physical sciences collectively. In engineering in particular, according to the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (2006), women account for just one in ten faculty members.
For thirty years, Girls Inc. has been implementing Operation SMART?, a philosophy and hands-on approach to engaging girls in STEM subjects. It allows trained Girls Inc. affiliate staff to design their own programs relevant to the interests and ages of the girls they serve. A highly effective component of the Girls Inc. Operation SMART program is Girls Inc. Eureka! ? Eureka! encourages girls ages 12 to 15 to explore career paths in mathematical, scientific and technical fields. It combines sports and personal development activities with an intensive experience on a college campus for four weeks, follows up with educational and experiential opportunities during the school year, and looks to provide paid internships focused on math, science, and technology for the participants.
In Alameda County, CA, girls in Eureka!, who were predominantly urban, minority girls, increased their math course-taking plans, while control group girls' plans to take math decreased. Second-year Eureka! girls' math and science course-taking plans almost doubled. Their interest in science careers increased, and the percentage of girls whose wish for the following school year was 'to do well/be on the honor roll' increased from 38 percent to 66 percent. In 2008-2009, all 17 girls who completed the program reported enrolling in college.
Given high expectations and the opportunities, resources, and support to make those expectations possible, girls have proven themselves to be as capable in STEM fields as boys are. However, mistaken beliefs that few girls, and even fewer girls from minority backgrounds or from families with meager resources, can excel in these fields still prompt many girls to self-select out of STEM at the earliest possible opportunity.
All women need significant knowledge and skills in math, science, and technology to earn a living wage, run a household, and act as informed citizens. Broadly, the world cannot afford to waste the talent and potential of women who might develop therapies to control or cure malaria or HIV/AIDS, sustainable technologies to provide drinking water or Internet access in under-resourced areas, housing using local materials that will withstand floods or earthquakes, mathematical models that suggest optimal use of resources, or evaluations that can document how well a program works. STEM education is the essential first step to moving these possibilities for women to reality.
Funding for the local community programs is always needed, particularly seed funding for new sites.
Current locations are in Orange County, CA; Birmingham, AL; Oakland, CA; Carpinteria, CA; Island City, CA; Dallas, TX; Denver, CA; Portland, OR, Lynn, MA, Holyoke, MA, Worcester, MA, Albany, NY; New York City, NY, Omaha, NE, Minneapolis, MN, Hambden, VA; Memphis, TN and St. Louis, MO. New sites are starting in San Antonio, TX and Fort Worth, TX.