availability and cost
Marty is correct to point out that
> we must constantly be aware that there are still people who don't have
> access to the internet or CD-compatible computers on a consistent or
> even occasional basis.
This is true, but the lack of computers and access to the internet have
already been identified and accepted as areas where improvement must be
for all people to be in a position to benefit from these resources.
I would like to examine more closely the "big picture" regarding the
research, publishing, and distribution of materials -- especially those
being produced to encourage girls to stay in their math and science
Think in terms of two factors: 1) Availability and 2) Cost
1) Availability -- Consider the sources of many of the science, math, and
engineering materials and programs that have already been developed. How
accessible are they right now -- either through print or electronic media
-- to the general population.
Several years ago I was privileged to serve on the AAUW Program Development Committee. Because of my interest in gender equity several members gave me copies of manuals published for science related events developed in their local areas. SHADES (Sharing Adventures in Engineering and Science: Helping Girls to Brighter Futures) is one such program. It was created by the Greater Knoxville Math/Science Coalition in 1992. This 58-page manual shows how to plan and implement a conference for female students (middle school aged) with active participation of women currently making their living as scientists and engineers. It explains how to build a coalition, fund-raising, organize the event, and gives the actual activity plans for each workshop.
There are hundreds of programs such as this that are created and implemented for a period of several years. At some point, most of these programs stop and the information on how to hold the event gets filed away or lost. Most of these programs were funded with small grants and are not copyrighted.
Is it time to locate these programs and publish them as free documents on the web?
> When we produce products for general consumption, we do try to cut costs > and use technology in the ways that it can be advantageous to us. But we > also keep in mind that some of our constituents will need the hard copy > version, even if that means we must pay more postage and printing costs. > Sometimes the most effective way to disseminate materials misses the people > who may need them most.
Marty is referring to the volume of wonderful materials developed through federal, state, and grant funded consortiums and organizations.
I am speaking from the perspective of the private sector and our efforts to advocate for a cause very dear to our hearts. Obviously there are few of us compared to those in the public agencies, but I think we can also make a positive contribution by the depth and quality of our products and in the budgeting and business expertise we develop out of pure economic necessity.
2) Cost -- When Rebecca Lowe Warren and I decided to write "The Scientist Within You: Experiments and Biographies of Distinguished Women in Science" we had no success finding a publisher nor a funding source. After attending every publishing seminar I could find and reading every book on the market on self-publishing I made the plunge and set up ACI Publishing. Each of our books cost on the average of $20,000 per publication which includes editorial, publishing, marketing, and fulfillment expenses for the life of the initial print run (usually 4,000 to 5,000 books).
Just a year ago I was concerned about being able to continue in the publishing business because I could no longer put up the money for more books; however, advances in technology are allowing me -- and others -- a low cost option through the use of CD-ROMS. It is not perfect. I'm working hard to learn a new skill. But the circumstances are becoming right for individuals to share their talents and expertise without having to find a sponsoring agency and large funding sources.
Mary Thompson Discover The Scientist Within You <http://www.alphaci.com>
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