CalGirlS, the California Girls in STEM Collaborative, Holds Kick-Off Conference at UC Berkeley

This was originally posted on the Lawrence Hall of Science Newsroom

CalGirlS Collaborative Conference attendees

On November 1, the California Girls in STEM Collaborative Project (CalGirlS), a Statewide collaborative network relaunched its effort, bringing together organizations that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

The Lawrence Hall of Science is serving as the CalGirlS convening organization to help provide ways for participants to share best practices and plan strategically to expand STEM-related opportunities for girls. The kick-off conference, held at UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr Campus, gathered over 110 interested individuals and programs.

CalGirlS is one of twenty-eight collaboratives across the United States that make up the National Girls Collaborative Project. The National Girls Collaborative Project provides the opportunity for participating organizations to work together to increase their capacity to maintain interest and participation of girls in STEM. The project also involves the out-of-school time field in growing knowledge about effective engagement and outreach strategies for underrepresented girls in STEM.

CalGirlS Speed Networking Activity"With the current technological advances happening in the world it‘s impossible to fulfill the needs of industries without encouraging, inspiring and training girls and women in STEM. They are essential to the success of the country and CalGirlS is helping to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers," says Dr. Rashmi Nanjundaswamy, CalGirlS leader and Scientific Project Manager at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Linda Kekelis, Executive Director of Techbridge, shares, "With so many opportunities available in technology and engineering, we need to support the talents of girls. Partnerships help us leverage our resources and programs to support girls. Techbridge has had first hand experience establishing a new partnership through the California Girls in STEM Collaborative Project. In fact, we are starting our sixth year partnering with the Alumnae Program at the College of Engineering—a partnership that began with a mini-grant."

The CalGirlS kick-off conference attendees included program managers, guidance counselors, business partners, afterschool educators, technical professionals, K-12 teachers, and representatives from professional organizations and higher education.

A highlight of the conference was a panel featuring girls and young women who shared their prior STEM experiences, role models, and future career plans. Keynote Speaker Judy Lee from IDEO inspired the crowd with her own stories about becoming an engineer.  Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley), made a special appearance to share her commitment to supporting STEM.  The day was rounded out by exciting hands-on STEM workshops offered by Techbridge, Iridescent’s Technovation Challenge, and the Hall’s Ingenuity Lab.