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Female High Schoolers Targeted For Math, Science Degrees By N.j. Colleges

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Tianna Spencer at Middlesex County College

Tianna Spencer works with other students on a Space Invader ride as part of a class at Middlesex County College called "TechXporation" that teaches high school girls going into sophomore year how to design and engineer amusement park rides.

Credit: Noah K. Murray / The Star-Ledger

Rutgers University is among a group of New Jersey colleges that are working to get more women interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This fall Rutgers opened its second all-women dormitory for math and science-related majors.

Since opening the first-ever all-women STEM dorm in the United States in 1989, Rutgers increased the ratio of women earning a STEM degree from 31 percent in 1989 to 36 percent in 2008. The New Jersey Institute of Technology's Murray Center for Women in Technology offers several programs designed to help recruit and retain female freshmen. One program includes sleepovers for high school girls, who spend a day with a female student attending classes and spend the night in the dorm.

Meanwhile, researchers at the nearby Stevens Institute of Technology recently received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help 30 U.S. universities encourage female interest in math and science. NSF also has provided Middlesex County College with a grant that enables the college to offer a free design-engineering course for female high school students between their freshman and sophomore year.

Rutgers University's Joan Bennett says that young women's interest in math and science will blossom once the relevant departments hire more female professors to serve as role models. She says women make better mentors for young women. "Women don't have any trouble understanding other women have ambition," Bennett says.

From The Star-Ledger (NJ)
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