[EDEQUITY Dialogue] Opening Statement by Cerise Roth-Vinson

From: Cerise.Roth-Vinson
Date: Mon Nov 13 2000 - 15:31:56 EST

It is my pleasure to serve as a panelist for this discussion with
educators, community members, parents, program staff and young women on how
we can advance the field of women in science and other areas of education
and work underrepresented by women.

After several years of working in high-tech and educational technology, and
years of exposure growing up in a household of scientists, I began to feel
empowered to change dynamically the face of a field where women are
underrepresented, particularly in positions of leadership. At the age of
24, I began directing CyberSisters, www.cyber-sisters.org, an educational
telementoring program for middle school girls in science, math and
technology based in Eugene, Oregon. Through CyberSisters, we are opening
young women's minds to previously unknown or unimagined educational
possibilities that include realistic, caring role models and informal
educational opportunities in science, math and technology. This exciting
and innovative mentoring program for middle school girls and college women
in science capitalizes on the power of facilitating and nurturing a
meaningful relationship with a strong role model to encourage middle school
girls to gain confidence in themselves, to be willing to take appropriate
risks and to enjoy the rewards associated with good decision making. Now
entering our fourth year, CyberSisters has reached more than five hundred
girls, just as many college women mentors, and numerous educators. But,
more must be done and more girls must gain confidence to pursue science,
math, engineering and technology in the long run.

We are indeed at a critical juncture in education and career pathways for
the participation and leadership of women and girls in science, math,
engineering and technology. During our discussion this week, I hope to
challenge us to think systemically and collaboratively on a number of
issues we face as advocates for women and girls. Academic opportunity and
competence, while critical, are not enough.

 How can we strategize creatively about meeting girls' needs in science,
math and technology to build a web of support?

 What opportunities exist to collaborate, leverage resources, establish
partnerships, and mobilize for equity in local educational systems?

 How can we engage role models, teachers, parents, mentors, peer leaders to
increase our capacity and to promote long-term educational and employment
opportunities for minority young women, economically disadvantaged women
and socially at-risk students?

 What might it mean to move from traditional programs of prevention and
problem solving to initiatives that strengthen skill building, exploration
and self-discovery for women and girls?

Again, I look forward to our discussion 'one year later' on educational
equity and women in science. I am excited to join this expert panel. I hope
to share ideas with you on issues of program start-up, hands-on activities,
youth development, mentoring, computer-based communication, and practical
ways to advocate for gender equity in your schools and communities.

Cerise Roth-Vinson
Program Director, CyberSisters

"Connecting Girls To the Future of Science, Math and Technology Through
On the Web at http://www.cyber-sisters.org

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