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A-B Tech receives NSF grant to recruit women for STEM programs



9/18/2012 - A-B Tech receives NSF grant to recruit women for STEM programs
by AB Tech

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Sept. 17, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has been awarded a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to recruit and retain female students to create more highly-skilled employees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

The $199,896 grant will fund Skilled Students Get Jobs: Recruiting Women and Engaging ALL Students. The project will increase the number of highly-skilled workers in STEM priority areas, according to Business Computer Technologies Chair Pamela Silvers, principal investigator of the project. It is funded through March 31, 2015.

"The goal of the project is to increase the number of female students in technology programs. Increasing the number of female graduates will increase the number of qualified graduates overall and fill the needs of employers," she said.
The grant aims to increase the number of women by 45 percent in information-systems security, computer engineering, computer information, electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, networking and sustainability. At A-B Tech, women comprised only 12 percent of the students in those technology programs, while they made up about 57 percent of the College's total students during the 2010-11 school year.

Nationally, women represent about one-half of the workforce but only 24 percent of the workers in the STEM fields, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce 2009 statistics.

Research indicates that women typically aren't attracted to the science, technology, engineering or math fields because they are traditionally male professions, Silvers said. Few women role models also play a role in the gender imbalance.
To recruit students, female student ambassadors will visit high-school career fairs, hold an education expo to inform high-school counselors and teachers about the programs, and attend area events to let non-traditional students know of the opportunities in STEM careers. Women enrolled in the targeted programs will automatically become members of a Women in Technology group, which will connect females through meetings and social media.

"This project is the result of numerous conversations, meetings, and relationships with industry. Growth during the economic downturn has highlighted the need for more skilled workers and drives the project goal of increasing the number and diversity of skilled technicians," Silvers said.

SOURCE Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

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