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08-12-2005

Clarkson's Horizons Programs Reinforce Parents’ Goals Of Exposing Daughters To Careers In Science And Engineering

In a recent study by Bayer, research showed close to nine out of 10 parents with daughters feel that a science and engineering career is a desirable career for their daughters, as well as showing that parents are confident their daughters have the ability to succeed in those positions. The study was conducted as part of the Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey series, an ongoing annual public opinion research project, which is a component of the Bayer Making Science Make Sense initiative.

According to the report published in May of 2005 in which 1,500 American parents were surveyed, two-thirds of surveyed parents indicate that they are aware that women in science and engineering are underrepresented. Ninety-five percent of parents also felt that it is important to receive a strong background in science and math at an early age to help remedy the problem.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) of parents also felt that the science and engineering community, including companies who employ staff in the science and engineering fields, should develop programs that attract, encourage and retain girls’ and minority students’ interest in science and math in school.

"Studies show that females have an aptitude equal to males in science and mathematics, yet few choose to pursue careers in these areas," said Horizons Program Director Bobbi Laird, a school psychologist and educational specialist. "Horizons is an intensive residential program designed to encourage and inspire girls at an important time in their lives, just as they begin to think seriously about identity, higher education, and career pursuits. We offer them role models and empower them to see options where before they may have seen limitations."

Clarkson created the Horizons programs 19 years ago. Annually, more than 200 seventh and eighth grade girls have been introduced to the excitement of an integrated science, math, engineering and technology experience, which promotes understanding and reinforcing of important scientific concepts through a fun and engaging manner involving hands-on activities and interactive team projects.

During Horizons I, girls may be found mixing up magic in a University chemistry lab, or learning about wetlands biology through the "Stomp in the Swamp" excursion. As part of Horizons II, the girls explore engineering through robotic and other engineering-related projects. The ends of both programs culminate with a presentation of projects that is open to the campus community and visiting parents.

Along with the interactive academic stream of the programs, Horizons is supported by a personal development and self-enrichment component that is intended to expose participants to value-forming experiences, ensure curiosity, persistence and an undefeatable spirit. The program gives young women an outlet to share and learn about themselves and each other as a way to understand the problems and solutions for a world at large.

In the end, according to Horizons Director Laird, the young women gain an understanding that “women in engineering and science are dynamic leaders and innovative, critically thinking problem-solvers who enjoy exploring new things and want to help people.”

The Horizons programs are sponsored by Clarkson’s Office of Institutional Diversity Initiatives and Pipeline Programs. The programs help offer an academic experience that prepares students at all levels to excel in the increasingly diverse working environment of the 21st century. Through a continuum of programming from pre-college through graduate school, Institutional Diversity Initiatives and Pipeline Programs work to provide academic, cultural and social support for a wide range of underrepresented students in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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