Strategies to Interest Women and Girls in STEM Programs

Presenters: Donna Milgram, Mel Cossette, and Karen Wosczyna-Birch
In this session, presenters will share proven practices and strategies that have resulted in significant increases in female enrollment in STEM programs at the secondary and community college levels where females were underrepresented. Participants will walk away with three strategies they can implement in their schools right away.

Donna Milgram, Executive Director, Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science
Donna Milgram is currently principal investigator (PI) of the CalWomenTech Scale Up Project, a five-year NSF-funded project working to assist STEM educators in two-year colleges in broadening participation of women. Milgram was also the PI of the NSF-funded CalWomenTech Project highlighted by NSF in 2009 for demonstrating significant achievement and program effectiveness. Seven California community colleges received training and technical assistance to help recruit and retain women into STEM programs through that project. The CalWomenTech Project was chosen as one of only three model projects in a 2013 American Association of University Women research report—Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success. Milgram received an award in 2013 for her cover article “How to Recruit Women & Girls to the STEM Classroom,” published by International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) in their Technology and Engineering Teacher magazine. In December 2013, Milgram participated as a speaker in a U.S. Department of Labor webinar titled Women in STEM: Why it matters and how YOU can help them get there. She founded the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS) in 1994 and has conducted hundreds of trainings on recruiting and retaining female students in STEM education for national, state, and regional educational institutions, organizations, and employers in 46 states and Canada. Milgram graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and received a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland.

Mel Cossette, Executive Director, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education, Edmonds Community College
Mel Cossette is the executive director and principal investigator (PI) of the NSF-funded National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEd), housed at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. MatEd is developing a clearinghouse of teaching materials—labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules, and papers—which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, including materials science, advanced manufacturing, and engineering technology programs. Cossette is also a PI for the NSF-funded National Educators Workshop, a professional development forum that brings two- and four-year instructors, K–12 teachers, and industry together around material science and STEM education. She serves as a co-PI on two other NSF grants: the National Resource Center for Aerospace Technical Education (SpaceTEC), an NSF center based in Florida; and the Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials-Engineering Research Center at North Carolina Agricultural and Technology State University. She was also the PI on an NSF-funded project, Proven Practices and Strategies for Recruitment of Women and Underrepresented Populations into STEM Careers, which documented proven practices in the recruitment of women and underrepresented populations into STEM programs. Previously, she has been a program manager with Boeing Joint Programs and supervisor of work-based learning programs at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. She serves on numerous boards such as the National Coalition for Advanced Technology Centers, Latino Educational Training Institute, High Technology Education Exchange Conference, and the Washington Technology Student Association, as well as numerous advisory committees. Cossette has an ME from City University of Seattle and a vocational education certificate from Shoreline Community College.

Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Executive Director, Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing; Director, Connecticut College of Technology
As the state director of the College of Technology and executive director of the NSF Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), Wosczyna-Birch works to reduce barriers in STEM education (grades 9–16) by providing seamless articulation between the educational institutions. RCNGM collaborates with industry to create curricula, as well as to provide opportunities for students and educators regarding careers in STEM-related disciplines. Through a partnership with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, marketing materials have been created and disseminated across the country to address the advanced skills and careers in STEM with an emphasis on manufacturing. As a professor of chemical technology, Wosczyna-Birch has been dedicated to the recruitment and persistence of underrepresented populations in STEM. This has included conducting workshops on gender equity and creating specific strategies to address the engagement of minorities and women in STEM. She has received many awards, including the New England Board of Higher Education State Merit Award in 2012; the Advocates of Connecticut, Asnuntuck, and Manufacturing (ACAM) Award from Asnuntuck Community College for leadership in advancing manufacturing in 2010; the regional and national Catalyst Award from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for Excellence in Chemical Education in 1996 and 2002; the Congressional Black Caucus Education Brain Trust Next Generation of Youth Service Award in 2002; and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) gender equity award. Wosczyna-Birch is also a board member on the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers; National Girls Collaborative, Girls Scouts of America; and the Hartford High School Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. Wosczyna-Birch received her BS in Chemistry, with a minor in Physics, Biology, and Mathematics from St. Joseph College. She received her MS in Neurophysiology and her doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Connecticut.