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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2011002292
pages 295-312

FEMMES: A ONE-DAY MENTORSHIP PROGRAM TO ENGAGE 4TH−6TH GRADE GIRLS IN STEM ACTIVITIES

Jessica A. Shuen
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Allison R. Elia
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Katherine Xu
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Chi-Fung Jennifer Chen
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Angela Jiang
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Ellen Litkowski
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Aubrey Bonhivert
Trinity College, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Heileen Hsu-Kim
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Rochelle D. Schwartz-Bloom
Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA

ABSTRACT

Existing gender disparities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields underscore the need for outreach programs to engage young women in these subjects. Although many programs exist for high school students, girls may lose interest in STEM subjects at an earlier age. Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science (FEMMES) hosts an annual, free, one-day event that provides exciting, hands-on workshops for 4th−6th grade girls from Durham, North Carolina, to encourage them to further explore their potential in these fields. This study evaluated the effect of the one-day event ("Capstone") on the 4th−6th grade girls' interest in, knowledge of, and confidence in STEM subjects. Assessments (self-reported ratings) were obtained from 319 participants prior to, immediately after, and again three months after the Capstone event. A repeated measure ANOVA (analysis of variance between groups) revealed a significant increase in interest in engineering, and confidence and knowledge of math, science, and engineering three months after the one-day event. Continued exposure to STEM fields through outreach programs like the FEMMES semester-long afterschool program (Chen et al., J. Women Minor. Sci. Eng., vol. 17, no. 4, p. 315−327, 2011; companion paper) may result in stronger long-term outcomes. Results from this study indicate that hands-on workshops and mentorship from female faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students may be important factors in inspiring young girls to pursue STEM fields.