The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a leading voice in advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research and has been for more than 135 years. In 1997 AAUW California member, Marie Wolbach, used a grant from the national office to begin Tech Trek at Stanford University. In 2013, AAUW’s national office expanded the Tech Trek camp program throughout the United States due to its continued success in California where the, now ten, camps have served over 10,000 girls in 20 years on eight college campuses. AAUW members in California made the expansion of the Tech Trek program possible, contributing their knowledge and time to planning of the camp documents and procedures. It is thanks to AAUW California and their member’s passion and dedication to this program that it is now serving girls across the country.
AAUW’s research report Why So Few?: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2010; available at aauw.org for free download) investigates causes of the gender gap in STEM professions and provides methods for overcoming stereotypes and gender bias against women in science-related fields. AAUW’s findings demonstrate the importance of girls’ learning environments in shaping their future achievements and interest in, science, technology, engineering and math. AAUW’s 2015 research report, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing (available at aauw.org for free download) asks why there are still so few women in the critical fields of engineering and computing — and explains what we can do to make these fields open to and desirable for all employees.
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, the gender gap is due not to innate biological differences, but to social and cultural beliefs about gender and intelligence. By promoting a “growth mindset,” showing girls that mathematical and scientific achievement is reached through learning and improving quantitative skills, educators can help girls to cultivate interest in science and math and to achieve a higher level of success.
AAUW believes the Tech Trek camps represent an important opportunity to foster the next generation of female STEM professionals. Girls will be encouraged through fun and challenging activities to develop their intellectual skills in STEM and will be introduced to successful female role models. Tech Trek will help girls to recognize their ability to succeed in a wide range of STEM professions and the importance of women’s contributions to these fields. The goal of the Tech Trek program is to provide an environment in which girls can learn, be creative and begin to see the opportunities that are open to them in the STEM educational and professional arenas.
We sincerely hope that Tech Trek campers will visualize college in their future and consider going into STEM fields. Tech Trek campers come from a wide range of economic, educational and ethnic backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they were recommended by teachers who recognized their interest and abilities in STEM. The week girls spend at Tech Trek is a special one, it gives girls a chance to be with other girls who share their interest and excitement about STEM, as well as finding out that what happens at Tech Trek can change how they think about themselves, and the world.
We encourage you to learn more about AAUW and all our STEM education efforts at www.aauw.org.