Teentech inspires young women for careers in STEM fields

SO-shu teentech inspires-WSOUTH ORANGE, NJ — More than 200 young women and 25 educators from high schools throughout New Jersey gathered at Seton Hall University for the American Association of University Women of New Jersey’s Teentech 2016, a day of hands-on workshops designed to engage young women in the broad opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

At the program, held on Friday, June 3, each student participated in two of the 12 workshops offered by Seton Hall faculty members. Workshops explored diverse topics, including anatomy of the heart, water pollution, disease transmission and big data mining.

“Seton Hall University and the College of Arts and Sciences has a tradition of supporting scientific endeavors and reaching out to the community,” Janine P. Buckner, associate dean for Academic Affairs and Planning in the College of Arts and Sciences, said in a press release. “We were proud to host Teentech because it resonates with our mission of servant leadership and preparing students to be leaders in their professional and community lives. Our faculty and students were welcoming of the opportunity to give science away by taking it out of academics and making it relatable to young women’s lives.”

Teentech has been a project of AAUW NJ, held in collaboration with a host college or university, for nearly 20 years.

“Teentech works to address the gender disparity in the STEM fields that our national association has highlighted in various publications,” Karen Brown, AAUW NJ Teentech coordinator, said in the release. “AAUW NJ organizes events such as Teentech to give girls hands-on experience so that they walk away saying, ‘I can do this! It is fun and rewarding.’ We want to empower young women to take full advantage of lucrative, exciting and fulfilling technology careers. We know companies want to hire more women, and hire locally — we are helping the young women to be prepared to meet that need.”

The high school students’ experience was enriched by interaction with many Seton Hall students who acted as campus escorts and workshop assistants, serving as role models and mentors for the younger students.

“I hope the young women learned that they can practice science and that science is all around them,” said Megan Kelly, a Ph.D. student in molecular bioscience in the College of Arts and Sciences, who aided assistant professor Jessica Cottrell in the “Are Your Hands Really Clean?” workshop. “High school students are not always exposed to these kinds of labs in school so this workshop provided them with the opportunity to examine the bacteria that are actually growing on their hands and see how different cleaning methods really work.”

Participating high schools included: Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan; Belleville High School, Bloomfield High School; North 13th Street Tech in Newark; Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City; Chatham High School; Morristown High School; New Brunswick High School; Manalapan High School; Rumson-Fair Haven High School in Rumson; Wall Township High School; STEM Academy in West Windsor; and Health and Science Academy in Trenton.

The program was made possible in partnership with the New Jersey Technology Education and Engineering Association, the New Jersey School Counselors Association, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the U.S. Department of Labor-Women’s Bureau. Seton Hall faculty also received support from the Association for Computing Machinery’s Committee on Women in Computing to develop computer science-related workshops.

“Since women are recognized as a minority in the STEM fields, events like Teentech serve as a wonderful opportunity to invite a younger generation of women to the scientific table,” Buckner said. “It was a pleasure and honor to share the STEM fields with the young women and show them that they can, and should, be as successful as men in these fields.”

For more information about the College of Arts and Sciences, please visit the website here.