Manufacturing Jobs - Good Or Bad?

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Manufacturing Jobs - Good Or Bad?

My first engineering job was a summer internship in an automotive manufacturing facility in Canada. Hardcore work was done there to machine engine blocks. I was the only American, the only female (other than the cafeteria workers) and the youngest person on the factory floor. It was quite the introduction to life as an engineer and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t rough. But it was also fascinating to experience manufacturing firsthand. I got to work with complex machinery and automation processes that efficiently produced the engine blocks with extreme precision. I learned about lean manufacturing and quality control. I earned a very high salary. And I know that the experience made me a better engineer.

Given my manufacturing history and my current focus on STEM, I was eager to read the US Public Opinion Of Manufacturing study written by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.  This 6th release of the study provides insights about manufacturing job growth and summarizes the public’s views about the sector.

A few of the points I found most salient were…

  1. The scarcity of STEM talent is impacting manufacturing with an anticipated shortage of 2 million workers over the next 10 years.
  2. 83% of Americans believe manufacturing is important to America’s economic prosperity.
  3. Americans rank manufacturing as the third most important industry needed to maintain a strong economy.
  4. Many believe that the US manufacturing industry is high-tech, can compete globally, and will grow stronger in the long term.
  5. Yet, the public seems reluctant to choose manufacturing careers with 70% citing it was not a strong career path and only 50% believing a career in manufacturing provides good pay relative to other industries.
  6. And 1/3 of respondents would be reluctant to encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career. However those familiar with manufacturing are 2X more likely to encourage such a career for their kids.

To solve its talent shortage, the industry has some work to do to change public perceptions about the viability and attractiveness of a career in manufacturing. As the last point above highlights, building awareness is an important first step – people cannot be what they cannot see. 

We wholeheartedly agree and as such a critical component of our app is focused on showing kids jobs firsthand. The manufacturing related jobs in our app include an engineer that works in a toy factory or a physics technician that manufactures metal parts or a product designer that works with plants overseas to produce backpacks. These visual insights help build career awareness among students and their adult advocates.

Do you know a kid who might thrive in a manufacturing job? If so, help them determine if such a job is a good fit for their interests and values by building their career awareness. Expose them to potential careers in the field via our app, industry websites, or even factory tours. The manufacturing industry will thank you for helping to fuel their talent pipeline! 

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Half of U.S. Adults Regret Postsecondary Choices

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Half of U.S. Adults Regret Postsecondary Choices

Have you seen the inaugural report published in June 2017 by Gallup and Strada Education Network entitled “On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions”? I found several of the findings interesting and thought I’d share 4 key observations here:

  1. About half of all U.S. adults who pursued or completed postsecondary degrees would change at least one aspect of their experience. If they could press the reset button, they would change their major, the institution attended, or the type of degree obtained.
  2. When looking at those whose highest level of education is a bachelor's degree, 40% have second thoughts about their major.
  3. Individuals who complete a vocational, trade or technical program are more positive about their decisions than those with an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  4. STEM graduates at all education levels are the least likely to report they would make different decisions about their postsecondary education.

With this information, it’s obvious to Couragion that students need more information and guidance before making these critical education decisions. We are dedicated to helping students pursue the postsecondary options that are most relevant to their career aspirations and lifestyle goals. And those pathways are diverse and varied ranging from training to certifications to degrees. Read the complete report here for more information. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

@mristeff 

www.linkedin.com/in/risteff

Source:  http://www.gallup.com/poll/211529/half-adults-change-least-one-education-decision.aspx?utm_source=genericbutton&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=sharing 

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4 Career Activities To Do With Kids This Summer

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4 Career Activities To Do With Kids This Summer

My elementary-aged daughters had their last day of school on Friday. During breakfast that day, I introduced them to Alice Cooper’s old but relevant song – ‘Schools Out (For Summer)’.  They LOVED it – especially the line that says ‘No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks’. They are totally pumped for summer vacation and belted out this song with glee!

I too am excited for summer, but I also feel immense pressure to prepare academic activities that will help my daughters avoid the Summer Slide.  I am sure many of you feel similar pressure and so I decided to help you by providing 5 career activity ideas that you can do with kids this summer. While these activities are career focused, you can also mix in important academic practice such as literacy or reading or science!

  1. Write A Self-Reflection – have your child reflect on the school year in order to inventory their likes and dislikes. What subjects were most fun? What projects did they enjoy the most? What was their favorite field trip? In what area do they need to work harder next year? Such a list gives insight into the child’s interest and values and can be used as their checklist when evaluating potential career options. This is also a great way to integrate writing and spelling practice into their summer. For example, one of my daughters is really working hard on remembering to capitalize the first letter of sentences or proper nouns. So, I will have her focus on checking for capitalization while writing her self-reflection.
  2. Find A Career Role Model – encourage your child to look for career role models in their life. Perhaps your child can interview someone in a field they are interested in. For example, one of my daughter’s friends is interested in photography and emailed questions (aka practiced literacy skills) to one of his favorite photographers. That photographer emailed back with all sorts of insight into what it is like to have a career as a photographer! Or urge your child to visit an aunt, uncle, or family friend at work for a couple of hours. This will provide your child with ideas about career options outside of your own work area which broadens their perspective about what is possible and increases the chances that they can ultimately find a career that best matches their interests and values.
  3. See Jobs First-Hand – take your child on a tour that exposes them to careers. For example, if you have an engineer buff, there are many automotive factory tours that you can do in the United States. Or if you have a budding actor, you can find a theatre that offers ‘behind the scenes tours’. In my area, the Denver Center For Performing Arts offers guided tours that give insight into all the work that goes into putting on a performance. Such experiences not only show kids career options but also let’s them see the work environment – which can be an important factor in job satisfaction. With older kids, you can turn this into an assignment that boosts their research skills by having them find tour options via Internet searches.
  4. Acquire Skills – urge your child to acquire a new skill this summer that aligns with their career interests. Attending summer camps is a great way to do this. Our local university offers an amazing array of camps covering topics such as robotics or climate change or medical science. If camps are not an option, your child can complete online courses. Do they like to program? Check out Khan Academy’s programming classes and video overviews – like this one on Python. Are they a data geek interested in math careers? Have them complete Microsoft’s free excel training exercises. Or maybe they have an interest in architecture? Encourage them to download SketchUp (there is a free version for K-12 students) to start building their 2D and 3D design skills! You can use insights from activity 1 to guide your search for a camp or online course that is right for your child.

And lastly, a bonus tip (and shameless plug for the Couragion app)! Consider purchasing the Couragion app for your child and encourage them to complete one Career Quest each week of the summer. Our app provides an easy, virtual way to do all of the above activities. With it, your child can explore careers, see role models, experience jobs first-hand, and receive STEM skill building tips.

I hope you have an amazing summer and if you have other ideas about supporting kids’ career discovery, please message us (info at couragion.com). 

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Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

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Hidden Figures Who Encourage Future Generations

Yesterday, I was sitting in the final plenary of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit 2017 in Tucson, AZ. If you aren’t familiar with NCWIT – it is a community of nearly 900 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT was chartered in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and equips change leaders with resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. These people are our tribe and we’re proud to be a partner and part of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance. Lucy Sanders, their CEO and Co-Founder, and the organization have been a force and source of encouragement for Couragion’s founders for nearly two decades. In 2016, Couragion was proud to win startup of the year at the same awards ceremony where Lucy won a well-deserved lifetime achievement award.

Margot Lee Shetterly who is the researcher, entrepreneur, and the author of “Hidden Figures" was the seminal keynote. She spoke about race, gender, science, and the history of technology. Margot talked about creating the lexicon for ‘hidden figures’ as people who have contributed, were not previously acknowledged, and now deserve to be celebrated. The term as discussed is nuanced as the identities of these women were hidden as were their contributions. Margot’s commitment was in elucidating these talented woman as individuals but she also strove to intimately understand the science and technology behind their stories. It moved me and further edified Couragion’s own journey. We’ve told the stories of over 40 female STEM professionals as part of our NSF work. We’ve respected each personal journey, their vulnerability and confidence, and the paths these role models have taken.

Allison Schroeder, the screenwriter of “Hidden Figures”, was honored at the Summit right after Margot’s speech. Allison won the Reel WiT Award - an honor created by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Google, and NCWIT. She herself is a notable STEM role model who studied math at Stanford University. Allison shared a fantastic story in her acceptance speech about one of her friend’s young daughters who recently saw three young African American females walking down the street and said, “Look Mommy, astronauts!” These narratives are rarely told – and when done with this type of clarity and honor can encourage future generations. I aspire that our work continues to make a difference in classrooms and in the lives of all the students we reach and influence.  

You can continue to contribute to the conversation by leveraging NCWIT resources for recruiting, retaining, and advancing girls and women in computing. Special thanks to the incredible staff and sponsors for the Summit!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

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Adults – Thank A Former Teacher This Week!

May 8 – 12, 2017 marks Teacher Appreciation Week – an event sponsored by the National PTA to celebrate teachers and deliver gratitude to them.

During this week, it is very common for people/kids to thank the their current teachers. But I bet very few of us take the opportunity to thank teachers who influenced us in the past.

I have heard more than one teacher talk about how meaningful it is when former students contact them, years later, to say thank you.  

For example, I recently attended my children’s school auction. A former student gave an inspirational speech about how the school and teachers helped shape the person she is today. She is just on the cusp of adulthood but has already helped save the life of a person and a dog. She credited her ability to do that because one of her elementary teachers believed in her and allowed her to explore her interest in a career as a paramedic/fire fighter at a very young age. This put her on an early path to seek training in the medical field and gave her the skills she needed to help out when she unexpectedly came upon a car accident. You could just see her former teachers beam and cry with joy as they listened to her heartfelt thanks!

Our role models share similar stories of how their teachers’ encouragement was a critical factor in their confidence to pursue STEM careers or other tough challenges. Here are a few examples…

  • “One of the biggest influences in my life - for me to move forward and excel - was my elementary school teacher. She was awesome, she believed in me and she encouraged me. I tended to panic and think I could not do things but she always supported and encouraged me to ‘just do it’!” - Sibel, Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer
  • “My PhD advisor was really great at teaching me how to think critically about problems and forcing me to be self-motivated!” - Carolyn, Cancer Researcher
  • “My botany professor was the first person to say ‘I see it in you, this stuff is easy for you’. He made me think of life differently in terms of what I could achieve. People would always say ‘whatever you set your mind to you can achieve’ but it wasn’t until working with him that I saw myself in a role as a professor or scientist or whatever I wanted to be!” - Violeta, Business Owner & STEM Initiatives Consultant
  • “My high school physics teacher was the one that brought me into the world of engineering. He showed me that even though it is really hard and its intimidating to do all of this physics and to go into engineering, he always said ‘YOU CAN DO THIS!’ and that is when I decided I wanted to do engineering.”  - Alexandra, Electrical Engineer
  • “When I was in 7th grade, the teacher was great at getting us out and seeing the environment instead of just sitting in a classroom and that helped me to fall in love with environmental sciences!” - Colleen, Senior Aviation Planner (Geo-Environmental focus)

Teachers – take these stories to heart and know that even if you don’t hear about it, your influence can positively shape your students’ lives even years after they were in your classroom.

And for the rest of us, I challenge you to take 5 minutes this week to reach out to a former teacher. Share with them how they positively impacted you and say thank you!

Our teachers have difficult jobs – hearing from former students can make a huge difference in helping them get through tough days! We are all counting on today’s teachers to inspire the next generation of STEM workers so let’s give them the gratitude they well deserve!

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

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We Need More Diverse Role Models in the Outdoor Industry

I recently met with the team at Camber Outdoors. We were talking about strategies to cultivate a more diverse talent pipeline with programs like REI’s Force of Nature, Paradigm for Parity, and Camber’s own CEO Pledge and Pitchfest in July. In looking deeper at REI’s Force of Nature campaign, one fact caught my eye. 63 percent of women said they could not think of a female outdoor role model. While making diverse role models more accessible will encourage and recruit people to head outdoors, I’d love to extend this focus to inspire more girls to join the outdoor industry workforce where they can be creative, innovative problem solvers.  

In many ways, the outdoor industry suffers from the very same optics issues that the rest of the STEM professions do. People don't understand what opportunities are available to them and the perceptions about who is welcome can be discouraging. I love that the outdoor industry is focused on changing the narrative to specifically show more diversity in outdoor media. But media isn’t just about entertaining people with magazines and movies. It’s also about the education-based media and video content that we put in front of our students every day. And when people think about the outdoor industry – STEM jobs don’t necessarily pop to mind. Deanne Buck, the Executive Director at Camber and outdoor industry role model herself, told me that the outdoor industry is about engineering and technology all wrapped in fun. I think we need to educate the incoming workforce about these opportunities they can pursue that often tap into their passions and add that fun quotient into the workplace.

This month Couragion added an amazing role model from Icelantic Skis – a company with 100% of their skis, apparel and accessories manufactured in the USA and led by another incredible exemplar CEO Annelise Loevlie. Lauren Kwan (see her pic above) is an inspirational role model in technology who owns everything from the brand identity of their organization straight down to creating the graphic design for the ski's top-sheets which is crucial to the product development lifecycle.

Couragion’s mission is to inspire underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. 87 percent of the role models we feature in our app are traditionally underrepresented in STEM. STEM role models in the outdoor industry can range from industrial engineers who are developing gear to environmental scientists working on conservation initiatives to creatives making the next adventure film. Could this be one of your kids?

 

Sources:

REI's Force of Nature campaign http://blog.rei.com/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field/

Deanne Buck featured in Outdoor Magazine article about diversity https://www.outsideonline.com/2150426/outdoor-industry-too-white

Media & Diversity in the Outdoor Industry article in Outdoor Magazine https://www.outsideonline.com/2172896/why-we-need-women-outdoor-packaging

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

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Taking A Kid To Work On Thursday? View These Tips!

This Thursday, April 27th, is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day (TODASTW)! It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to see a parent or mentor’s career and work environment first hand.

If you are taking a kid to work or if your students will be participating in the event, you can help them prepare by sharing these tips:

  1. Review The Day’s Plan - Prior to the event, make time to meet with the person that is taking you to work. Ask them about the agenda for the day and have them tell you about the activities you will participate in.
  2. Prepare Your Materials - Bring a notebook and pencil to take notes. Pack a water bottle and snack. Also, take a book or homework so that you have something to do during breaks or downtime during the event.
  3. Practice Your Introduction - You will meet several new people during the day. Upon meeting new people you should shake their hand, greet them and tell them your name. Practice doing this with a friend or family member.
  4. Formulate A Few Questions - Think about questions you can ask the people you meet during the day. Such as: “What is your favorite part of your job?” or “Can you show me something you do in your job?”
  5. Remember Your Manners - The people that you will interact with are volunteering their time to help you learn. Treat them with respect and kindness during the day and send a thank you card or email after the event.

You may download a print version of these tips here and for additional resources, visit the TODASTW website.

If your kids aren’t able to attend a TODASTW event, consider gifting them the Couragion app where they can see careers and work environments first hand via videos.

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Secrets To Math Success

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Secrets To Math Success

I have always LOVED math. From 3rd grade when I rocked the math fact races (the ones where a teacher flipped over a flash card and the first student to shout the answer won). To high school where I took the highest-level math courses offered at my school. To college where I worked as a Calculus tutor to help pay for my tuition. To my career where my favorite tasks are building spreadsheets, crunching numbers, and analyzing data.

So, it really concerns me that one of my daughters (age 8) is already saying things like ‘I hate math’ or ‘I am not good at math’.  I am on a constant quest to figure out how to help her see the benefits of math and to support her in approaching it with a positive, open mind.

In honor of Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, I thought I would share one of the studies I have run across during my quest.

The study was sponsored by Moody’s Analytics and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). It surveyed 1,680 11th and 12th grade students that excel at Math and asked them about their math and study habits.

When asked which method works best for math, ‘understanding the underlying concepts behind math formulas’ was at the top with 64% of respondents selecting this answer. 23% selected ‘lots of practice at solving math problems’ while just 4% selected ‘memorizing formulas’. And 7% felt ‘applying math to real world problems to help increase understanding’ was important.

On the topic of getting help when they have trouble understanding a math concept, persistence was key. 29% cited that they kept working on it until they figured it out on their own, 25% stated they would ask a teacher for help, and 17% said they would search for answers on the internet.

And when asked about what contributed most to their interest in math, 51% said they were naturally interested, 25% credited a good teacher, and 11% said they were motivated by the prospect of better college and career opportunities.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, provided additional insights beyond these findings. He suggests the following to help boost math interest and success:

  • Plant the seeds of interest at a young age by doing such things as playing board games, using online programs and gaming sites, or completing brain teasers
  • Demonstrate how math is used in every day activities such as analyzing sports scores or in calculating retail discounts
  • Convey a message that math can be a lot of fun

I apply several of these strategies with my daughter. For example, she often asks how many years it will be before she gets to go away to college. So reminding her about how important math is for college is especially effective. Also, she enjoys time with older kids. Therefore, I have found it helpful to share with her that teenagers recommend lots of math practice and persistence.

I hope the above tips and information will be helpful for you as you work with those students who also have negative thoughts about math.

Have a related tip? Share it with us via Twitter (@couragion). And for more details on the study – check out this infographic!

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Robotics For Engaging Educational Experiences

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Robotics For Engaging Educational Experiences

This week celebrates the eighth annual National Robotics Week April 8-16, 2017. While the week aims to celebrate technological advancement and advocate for continued R&D, Couragion is especially keen to support the overarching goal of inspiring students to pursue careers in robotics and other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

Robotics professionals are specialists across multiple disciplines and bridge computer science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Because the careers are interdisciplinary in nature, there are many different paths one can pursue academically.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment as a robotics engineer is growing slower than average, this can be misleading. The skills perfected through robotics programs like systems and design thinking are needed for many careers of the future. And robotics is revolutionizing technology and engineering jobs in the automotive, agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing industries among others.

Recent Google-Gallup studies have shown that robotics offerings in schools grew 12% year-over-year. In a new Couragion study, we asked educators which computer science concepts were offered at their schools. Notably, 55% of schools offer robotics in the classroom – and robotics was the 2nd most common response. But why the growing interest?

Robotics programs can offer engaging, hands-on experiences for students that encourage collaboration and problem solving. Robotics can be a great way to introduce computer programming to students because the robot provides them with automatic feedback in response to a set of changing instructions that they control. Check out our partner Ten80’s robotics courses, camps and competitions as an example of quality educational programming. 

Do you have any great stories to share about how robotics has inspired your kids? We'd love to hear about it!

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Internship Season – What’s In Demand?

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Internship Season – What’s In Demand?

With intern recruiting season in full swing, I felt it was timely to share an article that I recently read in the New York Times. It is entitled ‘Top 20 Fields for Internships: Get Your Skills On’ and it features the fields and skills most in demand in the intern market. 

STEM fields are featured prominently in the list and include:

  • Engineering
  • Data Analytics
  • Finance
  • IT Development
  • Science & Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Database Administration
  • IT Support
  • Economics

In addition, the list of the most sought after skills is helpful. The list spans both general skills and job specific skills. Top mentions of general skills include project management, customer service, and mathematics.

The above info can help the students or children in your life that are looking for an internship. The list of fields with the most job openings will help them narrow in on where they are most likely to find an internship. While the list of skills can give them ideas of what skills are important to develop and subsequently highlight on their resumes.

Gaining internship experiences is invaluable and can really help differentiate your students/children as they search for full-time jobs. Our role models repeatedly tell us how their internship experience helped them standout in the hiring process. For example, when we asked our Network Planning Engineer role model how difficult it was for her to get a job with AT&T, she replied by saying…

“This job was not as hard for me to find as it was for others because I had an internship before I hired on.”

By the way, if you know a student that has excellent design skills, have them check out our current opening for a Graphic Design Intern.

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STEM Starts Early

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STEM Starts Early

New research entitled STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood builds a case that the technology revolution has made it critical for all children to understand STEM – even in early childhood, defined as birth through age 8. Conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop with generous support from the National Science Foundation, the goals were to understand STEM learning challenges and opportunities, to make recommendations that help trigger new research and policy, and to encourage cross sector collaboration that will affect real change.

The findings examine the STEM landscape and the primary players and suggest that families and educators are motivated to introduce STEM learning into early childhood education but that the educational, social, cultural, and economic systems are often lacking. While we can reprioritize research, develop improved teacher preparation programs, and put plans in place to transform early childhood education – there are some fundamentals that can be used to inform and jumpstart initiatives today.  

  • Don’t underestimate the power of family engagement in STEM learning.
  • Strive for STEM fluency by engaging kids in place based and educational digital media experiences.
  • STEM topics can be taught successfully in informal environments like libraries and museums.
  • Parents and teachers alike need to be supported as many lack the confidence to encourage natural STEM abilities in young children.

This research is part of a growing body of studies that are showing a correlation between STEM experiences, improved perceptions of STEM, subsequent success in those subjects, and increased likelihood that those kids will pursue STEM expertise and careers. At Couragion, our mission and research is highly aligned. We inspire kids to pursue STEM pathways through improved awareness and perception of the amazing opportunities in STEM. Let's all make sure that STEM learning starts early! 

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Women in STEM Give Rise to More Women in STEM

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Women in STEM Give Rise to More Women in STEM

GE recently announced their corporate goals of having 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020 which would require them to hire 5,000 women into STEM positions and achieve a 50:50 representation for all technical entry-level programs over the next few years. With GE being my first employer, the announcement as you might imagine stood out for me. Many companies who care deeply about cultivating the STEM pipeline have announced their own workforce diversity efforts. I was curious how GE’s proclamation and #BalanceTheEquation campaign compared.

First, GE’s new white paper asserts that doubling down on the gender-equal playing field will widen their pool of potential hires and could lead to significant productivity and performance gains. The research points to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The World Economic Forum, and McKinsey – each highlighting how increased female participation in the labor force correlates to economic strength.  

Second, in order to support this announcement, GE recently launched a STEM role model campaign complete with YouTube video called “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like A Celebrity”. The ad’s details play on pop culture by featuring a nursery with a boom in babies named Millie, a gray-haired emoji available on our smart phones, a boon of Millie imitators and Halloween costumes, and even a “One in a Millie” headline in a superstar news magazine.

Third, the company has put out a multi-point action plan to achieve gender parity and address these ambitious goals. These strategies for both recruiting and retaining talent include the following:

  • Shift the focus of university recruitment efforts to institutions that have a balanced gender mix
  • Develop robust career advancement and leadership development opportunities for diverse employees
  • Implement employee programs and benefits that foster an inclusive culture and environment

I think GE’s #BalanceTheEquation campaign is well conceived. At Couragion, we too strongly understand and advocate for the importance of role models and applaud the aspirational efforts. With dedication and focus, I hope they will attract more women into the STEM fields, nurture more STEM role models like Millie who will inspire future generations, and drive enhanced innovation by keeping women productive and fulfilled within their careers – all exemplifying something Couragion strongly champions. Women in STEM give rise to more women in STEM.

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Boost Kids’ STEM Grades – Simply By Talking!?!

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Boost Kids’ STEM Grades – Simply By Talking!?!

Researchers at University of Chicago, Northwestern University (my alma mater - Go Wildcats!), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Virginia recently published a study titled ‘Utility-Value Intervention With Parents Increases Students’ STEM Preparation and Career Pursuit’.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the long-term effects of an intervention designed to help parents talk with their high school kids about the importance of mathematics and science courses. The researchers provided a group of parents with materials that helped them talk to their children about the relevance of STEM- showing how school subjects factor into specific careers or how math and science make cell phones work, for example.

When comparing the children that had such talks with their parents to a control group, researchers found that the intervention promoted STEM course-taking in high school and improved mathematics and science ACT scores by 12 percentile points. Such factors are associated with increased STEM career pursuit 5 years after the intervention! 

Christopher S. Rozek, the lead researcher, says “Parents are potentially an untapped resource for helping to improve the STEM motivation and preparation of students. We could move the needle by just encouraging parents to have these conversations about the relevance of math and science.”

Do you think that talking to your kids might boost their STEM interest and grades? As the saying goes, ‘talk is cheap’, so this seems worth trying!    

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Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work Day 2017 #COUNTONME

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Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work Day 2017 #COUNTONME

Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day occurs in the US on the 4th Thursday in April. This year it takes place on April 27th and the theme is #COUNTONME. The idea is that parents and guardians take their kids work to expose them to careers held by them and their coworkers and focuses on expanding their future opportunities. When done well, kids return to the classroom full of cool stories about the people they met and the things they learned about themselves.

Last year Couragion joined forces with Hosting.com – a technology company that provides always-on compliant cloud solutions empowering 2000+ global clients. The program included a datacenter tour, sessions on internet safety, a coding academy, and a career exploration workshop. Hosting.com gave the Couragion app as a gift to every daughter and son in attendance to expand their career planning and readiness. It was great to see the kid’s comments inside the application about their experience that day – here are a few for your enjoyment:

“I thought it was like telling my future.”

“I think that this industry would help me learn a lot and would also allow me to support a family with the amount of money I would make.”

“I have no questions but must say that is the best sounding job other than an engineer.”

Is your organization looking for the perfect activity for Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day? Why limit career exploration to only one day a year - with Couragion, your kids can access new career ideas all year long.

There is still time to host your own Couragion career exploration workshop at your company! Contact us at info@couragion.com for more information.

Be sure to use the #COUNTONME hashtag in your social media posts supporting Take Our Daughters & Sons To Work® Day 2017!

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Advice For Future Engineers

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Advice For Future Engineers

As we near the end of Engineers Week, I have been reflecting on the amazing advice our engineer role models provide in their video interviews. The advice is focused on what the engineers would recommend to their younger self had they known they were going to pursue a career in engineering. This is the perfect information to share with students or children as you wrap up and reflect on your Engineers Week activities.

  • ‘If I had known I was going to be an engineer, I would have taken more vocational technology type classes to get more hands-on experience – such as welding or manufacturing. And, if you ever get the chance to take tours of plants or commercial buildings and can actually look at how equipment operates it really brings it all home and makes sense of things that you learn in the classroom.’ - Mandy Redfield, Mechanical Engineer
  • ‘A work ethic, interest in the subject, and being able to solve a problem in ways that other people wouldn’t figure out are great skills to build for being an engineer.’ - Natalie Mujica Schwahn, Engineer Technician - Physics/Laser 
  • ‘Sometimes people have to give you feedback, its not an attack against you, it is just feedback, so take it with a grain of salt.’ - Alexandra Kaufhold, Electrical Engineer
  • ‘Important high school classes for becoming an engineer are algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and any exposure to programming and coding.’ - Raymond Jose, Wireless Network Engineer
  • ‘We require a lot of critical thinking, creativity, and team player abilities – find experiences that help you build those skills. Physics, chemistry, biology and advanced math classes are key in high school. About a month ago, I had to dig into my college notes from linear algebra and numerical analysis to figure out a problem at work – you will use the information you learn in your high school and college classes.’ - Sibel Clark, Spacecraft Flight Software Engineer
  • ‘I would have tried a little harder to meet folks involved in the medical field and I could have shadowed a surgeon or a doctor to see what kind of tools they are using and materials they are interacting with. That way I would have learned more about the needs in the medical field for the devices that I am interested in making now. I’d also tell my high school and college self to do things like study abroad or learn a different language to differentiate myself.’ - Chelsea Magin, Product Management Director, Biomedical Engineering

I love these sage suggestions - covering everything from what classes to take to what skills to build to what extracurricular activities to pursue.

Are you an engineer? If so, what advice would you add? Are you a parent or teacher? If so, what recommendations do you think will resonate most with your children/students?

Enjoy the last two days of Engineers Week! I'm wrapping up my week by taking my daughters to University of Colorado's Family Engineering Day. My daughters are looking forward to building robots, inventing in the maker space, and developing a product with the 3D printers.

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Are you ready for Digital Learning Day? #DLDay

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Are you ready for Digital Learning Day? #DLDay

Instructional technology programs in the classroom and after the bell are improving student outcomes across our nation. In 2012, Digital Learning Day was started as a venue to showcase educators dedicated to digital learning and to spread those innovative teaching practices. The nationwide celebration held on February 23rd this year is an effort to engage students and empower educators through the effective use of digital tools to improve the learning experience in K-12 education.

In case you need help selecting some digital learning activities, here are a few actionable and useful ideas that will extend beyond just the #DLDay.

  1. Create a Classroom Run Blog – Being a blogger used to be just a hobby but for many people around the globe, it’s become a career. Blogging gives students a voice and a way to build real marketable skills. Check out this post Blogging? It's Elementary, My Dear Watson! for suggested tips and the digital tools to make it happen.  
  2. Create a Personal or Group Research Practice – Students and teachers can save online resources and share their research with members of their groups. And the bonus is that it doesn’t require an email to sign up and use the link sharing and social bookmarking service! Organize Your Research with Diigo (Part 1 of 3) will give you a quick primer – but I’d also check out Parts 2 and 3 for specific tips for group collaboration and K-12 teachers.

To further take part, you can share your digital learning activities and lessons with others.

Tell your stories by registering your #DLDay activities here:  http://www.digitallearningday.org/register-your-event/

You can also participate in live Twitter chats throughout #DLDay to learn from others. Don’t forget to use the #DLDay hashtag to monitor the conversations and tag your own contributions. Mark your calendar! 

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Can Role Models Make Girls Feel Smarter?

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Can Role Models Make Girls Feel Smarter?

An article kept popping up in my social media channels last week – it was titled ‘Girls feel less 'smart' than boys by age 6, research says’. As a mom to two girls, ages 6 and 7, you can imagine that it caught my attention!

The article highlights these research findings based on experiments with 400 children…

  • At the age of 5, girls viewed themselves as being just as capable as their male counterparts in terms of brilliance
  • By the age of 6, girls already consider boys more likely to show brilliance and more suited to "really, really smart" activities
  • One theory for this switch is that it coincides with the age that kids have more formal schooling and have much more exposure to cultural messages regarding the types of activities that are for really smart kids
  • Researchers say that a strong female role model has shown in some instances to "inoculate" girls from this social stereotype

I’m thrilled that we are helping change perceptions with our STEM role models – 72% are female and all of them are brilliant. They are doing ‘really, really smart’ activities such as curing cancer, sending a spacecraft to Jupiter, protecting the environment, or teaching the next generation of STEM workers!

Being a lover of research, I decided to ask my own daughters some of the same questions posed in the study.  Here were their responses…

  • From my 6 year old - "Both boys and girls are smart and can do the same things."
  • From my 7 year old - "Actually I think girls have bigger brains than boys – they just didn’t know that back in the old days!"

There you have it! Their responses counter the research and I hope that is a bit in part because they have strong female role models in their lives - role models that love STEM and help to STEM brainwash my daughters! Do you have similarly aged kids? If so, ask them for their thoughts on this topic - I would love to hear what they say.

P.S. A special shout out and photo credit to my cousin Deb – the photo in this blog post is her daughter doing a ‘really, really smart’ activity of building a robot! Deb herself is a super star role model – she is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with a PhD and she does an amazing job of exposing her daughter and son to all things STEM.

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February Career & STEM Events – Are You Ready?

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February Career & STEM Events – Are You Ready?

February is chock full of career and STEM events that can be used to complement your curriculum and expand students’ knowledge. Below is a list of the events along with resources that you can use to participate. Do you know of another February event or a resource for one of the events below? If so, send those to me and I will add them to this post – info at couragion.com.

 

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month® - Month of February

Created by the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), this is a month-long public awareness campaign designed to let schools inform others of their innovation and excellence in CTE and to raise awareness of the role CTE plays in career readiness and national economic success. On the ACTE website, you can find several ideas on how to get involved from doing social media outreach to engaging with policy makers to working with local business leaders.  At your school, you can host a CTE demonstration day to attract more students into the program or to share your program’s success with the local community. There are several examples of such events on ACTE’s Success Stories webpage

 

National School Counseling Week - February 6 – 10, 2017

The theme for the National School Counseling Week 2017 is "School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential". This event is sponsored by the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) and highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. The ASCA website has resources that focus on publicizing the benefits of school counseling via social media. While this is important, I think it is critical to pair this with student-focused activities during the week. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Set aside time for students to do extra career exploration and self-reflection during the week (of course you can use our app to do that).
  • Host short workshops that focus on internships or resume writing or college application completion.
  • Make a push to get as many students as possible to meet in-person with counselors that week.
  • Integrate mind and body wellness activities into the week such as a yoga session or a healthy eating/cooking demonstration.

 

National Engineers Week - February 19 – 25, 2017

As a former mechanical engineer, I am thrilled that this week-long celebration exists. The organizers cite that the goal of the week is to: a) celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, b) increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and c) bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents. Here are several recommendations to help students to explore engineering during the week:

  1. Expose students to a diverse set of engineering role models. This article features famous African-American engineers while this list highlights Hispanic leaders in technology and business – many of whom are engineers. Our app also features diverse role models – 87% are female and/or people of color. And we cover a broad range of engineering jobs – mechanical, electrical, biomedical, chemical, robotics, etc.
  2. Teach students about the engineering design process which is helpful for any type of engineering job. NASA has a great resource for this that includes videos and activity guides. Using simple materials and supplies, the NASA lessons help kids to understand critical engineering steps - asking a question, imagining a solution, planning a design, creating that model, experimenting and testing that model, then taking time to improve the original solution.    
  3. Help students explore their own interests and determine what type of engineering fits those interests. Lockheed Martin has a fun quiz that students can complete to determine what type of engineering best suits them. Or, of course, our app enables students to view engineering jobs, complete self-reflections, and then see which jobs are a best-fit for their interests and values.
  4. Encourage students to use their screen time to view media that is related to engineering. For example, National Geographic has a series called Mega Factories that show viewers how engineers build all types of products from Telsa vehicles to Ikea sofas. Or, Discovery features the show How It’s Made. This series highlights how products are engineered. And with a variety of products from food to bicycles to fabric, students can find something that fits their interests.

 

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day - February 23, 2017

This is a special day set aside to introduce girls to the fascinating world of engineering and to turn them on to engineering & technology careers. DiscoverE has many resources that you can use to celebrate this day:

  • A messaging guide with tips on what language to use to help girls think positively about engineering.
  • A selection of fun, hands-on engineering activities.
  • A role model video featuring an engineering student at Iowa State University.

This event aligns well with our mission of boosting the diversity in STEM – including increasing females that pursue STEM careers. Seventy-Two percent of our role models are female, making our app a perfect resource for girls to use on February 23 and throughout the year.

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Promoting Early Parent-Teacher Career Conversations For Our Students

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Promoting Early Parent-Teacher Career Conversations For Our Students

Per the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability, families who learn about and begin the career development process with their youth early are better prepared to support their students in choosing and building a bright future over the course of their career. Our partner schools agree and so do we. Some of our teachers started to share with us that they were using the Couragion educator application to share student progress with their parents during parent-teacher conferences. When we found out, we offered to create a new feature meant to enhance the parent-teacher interaction. This new feature offers parents insight into their kid’s best fit careers, related career clusters, and career related goals among other things – with a whole host of benefits.  

Parent-teacher conversations become enthusiastic and fresh – and whole lot less redundant. Teachers focus on the interests and preferences of their students and parents gain insights about what’s happening in the classroom. The focus creates positive and personal parent-teacher interactions.

Additionally, parents have something to take away from the meeting to discuss with their kids that isn’t just about performance feedback alone. What if your daughter is interested in being a food scientist? What if you learned that your son wants to pursue a career in cyber security? With this information, family and their advocates can play a more informed and critical role in career planning and youth development. 

Technology like Couragion can enhance home-school communications. And when parents and teachers communicate more effectively, they can better support students in their quest of self-awareness and career discovery. 

 

Source:

http://www.ncwd-youth.info/understanding-the-new-vision-for-career-development-the-role-of-family

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How Can You Help The OSTP?

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How Can You Help The OSTP?

OSTP stands for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The OSTP is tasked with providing the President and his senior staff with advice on the scientific and technological aspects of all issues before them and ensuring that Federal investments in science and technology (S&T) are making the greatest possible contribution to economic prosperity, public health, environmental quality, and national security.

Last week, OSTP released its Exit Memo for the incoming administration. The memo focused on three main areas – highlights of President Obama’s leadership in the areas of scientific discovery and technological innovation, a summary of the S&T frontiers that American enterprise will advance in the future, and a request for all Americans to work on 10 Actions that will drive continued innovation and progress across those frontiers.

The 10 Actions covered a variety of topics from recruiting top S&T talent in the federal government to supporting entrepreneurs to increasing access to high-quality STEM education.  Depending upon your job, several of the Actions might be hard to contribute to, but the one Action that is relatively easy for any American to impact is Action 5 - Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Mitigate the Impacts of Bias.

With Action 5, the OSTP makes the point that innovation is fortified by tapping into the unparalleled diversity of the American people and the diversity of ideas that they generate. The Office emphasizes that diversity on teams leads to better outcomes and calls on us to draw upon a diverse community in building a STEM workforce for the 21st century. Finally, the OSTP shares that popular entertainment media can influence the public’s perceptions of STEM fields and careers with the use of diverse and compelling STEM images, stories, and positive messages.

The last part of Action 5 is especially pertinent to those in education. You can support this Action by paying attention to the examples of scientists, engineers, mathematicians or technologists that you share during your lessons. You can make sure that the images you share or the guest speakers you invite into the classroom are diverse in gender, ethnicity, and age. For non-educators, you can vote with your eyeballs! Select media options that show a diverse set of individuals in STEM and leadership positions and avoid programming that perpetuates stereotypes.

This Action is particularly important to Couragion - our company was built with the goal of boosting the number and diversity of individuals that pursue STEM careers.  We know that in order for a diverse audience to believe that they are capable of succeeding in STEM, they need to see role models that reflect their own gender and ethnicity. Today, 87% of our STEM role models are underrepresented in STEM and we plan to continue this diversity focus as we move forward. 

What can you do to positively support OSTP’s Action 5? To learn more about Action 5, and the other elements of OSTP’s Exit Memo, visit the White House website.

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