Tech Savvy was started by the American Association of University Women to help address the fact that women fill close to half of the jobs in the U.S. economy but hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. The format of the conference is based on two research reports done by AAUW, Why So Few? Women in STEM and Solving the Equation: The Variable for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing. Stereotypes, biases, and unwelcoming environments are still barriers to women, but reports and conferences such as Tech Savvy are hoping to change that.
An essential element of the research about girls’ interest in STEM careers shows that girls need strong women role models.
During the conference, the girls attended various breakout and learning sessions where they experienced hands on sessions with women in STEM careers. The two additional instrumental segments of Tech Savvy were College Savvy and Savvy Skills. During the College Savvy time, girls spoke with a variety of college recruiters and participated in mock interviews. Savvy skills focus on skills girls can use in their daily lives such as critical thinking, public speaking, financial literacy, negotiation, and interviewing. Parents who attended Tech Savvy learned about how to help their daughters pursue STEM careers both academically and financially.
The girls who attended Tech Savvy not only learned new things, but also opened their eyes to new possibilities. Some of the girls’ comments were: “I really liked the workshop. They were interactive.” “I used the pen and notebook a lot.” “I really enjoyed getting the information I need to know in order to apply for college and about what careers would be good for me. This will really help me to know this information ahead of time. Having a chance to communicate with college recruiters.” and “The experience of coming to this college”.
One parent commented,” I found the overall experience beneficial and I feel empowered to help my child.” Another parent said they are encouraged to help their daughter to shoot higher and what engineering can mean and the financial cost of college.