Funding SMT programs

Date: Thu Dec 02 1999 - 17:18:27 EST

I direct an innovative telementoring program, called CyberSisters
(, for middle school girls in science, math
and technology that pairs them one-on-one with college women mentors. We
are moving forward with many of the ideas and challenges expressed in this
discussion, including building a flexible, very low-cost program to reach
rural and urban locations nationwide, that can be distributed dynamically
via the web.

>How can we keep them going for a sufficiently long period of time to
>the generational change that's needed to evolve the society to the point
>where they are no longer needed?

In addition to other in-person activities, we've also had great success
with a telementoring component that provides a long-term form of
communication between mentors and protegees. Part of our work also involves
bringing all the right people into the mix of who is most active in girls'
daily lives to ensure a broad-based impact. With CyberSisters, we have
built in a parent, teacher, mentor, peer, and protege role that, regardless
of funding, will continue throughout girls experiences in school. Parents
learn not to 'justify' their daughter's negative attitudes through
statements such as "That's okay if you're not doing well in math, I never
did either." Strategies we learn through mentoring and project development
with girls recycles back to the girls' teachers through feedback and
workshops. I'd even like to take it one step further, and go 'generational'
with the program to bring in industry or retired professionals.

<<What sorts of services might universities provide the middle school and
high school teachers to: (a)convince them to change what they do, if
needed; and (b) help them to change what they do, when they become

Well, I also work as an Asst. Director for an instructional computing
center at the University of Oregon with Higher Ed. Faculty incorporating
technology into their courses. The university *can* be a wealth of support,
but not always funding! So many programs now focus on materials, resources
and publications rather than providing real impact dollars to make actual
relationships and opportunities a reality. Community colleges,
universities, learning centers, and professional organizations are
extremely valuable to those of us doing program development work. I lobby
universities to:

*support role models through faculty recruitment of women in computers,
science, math and engineering
*provide free venues for meetings
*provide free use of equipment such as computer labs
*publicize campus tours led by college women (let girls see what a
professor's office looks like, where a scientist might work, where a
'computer lab' is located, and what an 'engineer's' dorm room is like)
*speak at mentor training workshops
*sponsor girls in summer science camps
*And, *ask* them for their own numbers on entering vs. graduating women in
these the support of people who have been there.

I have lots more ideas and questions to get to but I'll wait.

Cerise Roth-Vinson
Program Coordinator


Cerise Roth-Vinson Web:
Program Coordinator E-mail:

WISTEC CyberSisters Mentor Program Phone: (541) 346-3256
PO Box 1518 Fax: (541) 484-9027
2300 Leo Harris Pkwy.
Eugene, OR 97440

CyberSisters is an educational telementoring program in science, math,
and technology for middle school girls. Visit us online at

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