R – AAUW RESEARCH is the foundation of all AAUW programs and projects.

How did the Farmers Branch/Carrollton branch support and/or use AAUW Research and/or research on women’s education and equity issues generated within our community?

Reach for the Stars

In November 2014, Farmers Branch Carrollton AAUW celebrated its 25th successful year of hosting Reach for the Stars, a 1/2 day, 15-subject workshop for 7th & 8th grade girls to introduce them to careers in math & science. The workshop featured hands-on activities for girls and opportunities to meet STEM role models, with a focus on the “growth mindset” promoted in the “Why So Few?” research report.

The event encountered a few bumps before finding the techniques that led to success. The year no students came from two of the middle schools made the branch realize the importance of coordinating with the local school district. We learned later that those schools were holding a volleyball tournament! Coordination with the middle school counselors has made all the difference in enrollment. With the enticement of a gourmet luncheon prepared by long-time AAUW member and chair of the event, Julie Moore, DDS, the counselors convened with AAUW organizers to receive the enrollment brochures and learn of any new workshops. They also collected the enrollments and nominal fees, noting for the branch students who wanted to attend but needed a “scholarship” to do so. When the counselors agreed to arrange for school district buses and attend the event with the young women to help guide them through the college campus and attend workshops with them, the branch was guaranteed better attendance and fewer behavior problems.

The event provided a “pay-off” for the school district as well, according to Michelle Capener, Counseling Facilitator of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, “This unique event has afforded our 7th and 8th grade female students the opportunity to explore STEM career options, to interact with successful female role models, and to view a college campus firsthand. Through their participation in the program, our students have gained valuable insight into potential professions as well as motivation to succeed in their academic pursuits. Our district is sincerely appreciative of the investment made in our students by the American Association of University Women.”

A diverse student population from seven area middle schools attended the event. At the workshops girls learned that if they persevere, they can continue to grow and build their skills in STEM. Mary Lovell, Presenter Recruiter, enjoyed finding creative workshops for the young women. The veterinarian brought a pet bulldog for examination and a parrot for anatomy instruction. The geologist encouraged volcano explosions, and the App Developer helped the participants move from inspiration to reality in creating an app. The young women were active in every workshop, leaving with Mary Kay creams they made, bracelets from tumbled stones, or components from the tiny robots. The seventh graders told us they were looking forward to next year and the eighth graders asked why they couldn’t return.

In addition to the middle school counselors and the workshop presenters, the third component for success was the college site. Besides the obvious compatibility of classrooms and labs, a College-University Partner, Brookhaven College embraced its role in promoting science and math to young girls. Physics professor and AAUW member Anahita Sidhwa handled the site arrangements as they became more complicated with the greater popularity of the event. Among a dozen other smaller details, she scheduled rooms based on presenter needs, coordinated with the college public information office for design and printing of the program, and contacted the campus police for security coverage. Having a committed on-site employee helped the branch hold a more seamless event.

Reach for the Starts offered a payoff for the college and the community. Over its 25 years, approximately 5,000 girls engaged with professional women at the event. Records indicate that about 55% of them came back to Brookhaven College to take credit classes.
In November 2014, the Farmers Branch-Carrolton branch was presented a plaque of appreciation by the Board of Trustees of C-FB ISD for 25 years of coordination of this valuable workshop for young women.

In 2015, Brookhaven College assumed the program under its Outreach Program.

Girls Empowered by Mentoring, G.E.M.

In Spring 2015, the branch began a new initiative, Girls Empowered by Mentoring, G.E.M. The Carrollton Farmers Branch Independent School District (CFBISD) has an Early College High School (ECHS) hosted by Brookhaven College. The goal of ECHS is to have students graduate with a high school diploma at the same time they receive an Associate’s degree. The students are selected from the ISD rolls as ones who have potential but perhaps not the means to pursue a college education. The school is small (only about 100 students per class year) and isolated from regular high school populations, so it is not a comfortable fit for just any student.

The principal indicated to the college administration that the female students might profit from having female mentors. With that request, the branch researched mentoring programs and began to form some guidelines for recruiting professional women. These women agreed to undergo training in mentoring and commit to a yearlong program of meeting with the young students.

The organizational mission statement is as follows: This mentoring program is designed to bring together professional women with young female early college students in order to help the young women navigate effective ways to continue their education and to build self-confidence.

As we near the end of the first year of the program, we will evaluate whether to continue, and if so, what changes need to be made.

The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

Delryn Fleming, President, presented AAUW material “Understanding the Gender Pay Gap” to 50 young women attending the Texas State Convention for Ignite on February 20, 2016.