Inspiring Tomorrow’s Innovators at AAUW Tech Savvy in Pittsburgh

Middle school aged girls attending AAUW Tech Savvy in Pittsburgh (PA) wearing hardhats, googles, lab coats, and magnifying glass.

AAUW Tech Savvy students know how to have fun — and they’re part of a key investment in our economic future.

June 03, 2016

 

Ninety-five middle school girls recently spent a Saturday trying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) on for size at AAUW Tech Savvy at La Roche College in Pittsburgh’s North Hills.

As students explored and experimented, parents learned how to support their daughters’ futures in STEM. Attendees received advice about which classes to take, how to get into the right program, how to pay for college, and what young women might expect in the workplace.

Members of the AAUW North Hills Pittsburgh (PA) Branch and the La Roche community facilitated the day’s events, which were supported by Alcoa Foundation and organized by AAUW.

Although the day was designed to inspire students to pursue futures in STEM, the students, parents, and volunteers were also applying the lessons learned from the tough economic setbacks Pittsburgh has overcome throughout its history.

Steel City Bounces Back through STEM Innovation

Steel mills and a long staircase in the South Side Slopes neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. January 1940. Library of Congress.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh has shifted from an
industrial to a STEM economy.

Industrial Pittsburgh entered a 30-year renaissance during the post-World War II boom. But by the early 1980s, Steel City had entered a tough recession after its namesake industry had fallen on hard times. As many as 50,000 Pittsburghers left the city each year in the downturn’s wake.

Steel City recovered from that recession, thanks in part to good long-term planning and investments in STEM innovation. With the support of Pittsburgh’s civic, industrial, educational, and philanthropic leaders, the city’s economy shifted from its manufacturing origins to innovate in the STEM fields.

More than three decades later, that same planning and innovation led to Pittsburgh being recognized as one of only three major metro regions in the United States to have recovered from the Great Recession. Branching out into their new STEM economy helped revitalize Pittsburgh twice.

Investing in Tomorrow’s Economy and Workforce Today

In turn, AAUW Tech Savvy is helping Pittsburgh’s new workforce branch out in diversity. Alcoa Foundation has been a leader in bringing diversity to this growing STEM workforce in Pittsburgh and beyond. The organization supported other AAUW Tech Savvy sites before bringing the program to its hometown in May 2016. Alcoa Foundation invests in these programs because the organization recognizes that diverse workforces and leadership are important to industry success and that women are still underrepresented in STEM.

AAUW’s research shows that the gender imbalance is striking, especially in engineering and computing. The problem often starts in middle school, and it only grows from there. In places where the situation has improved, progress has been slow and inconsistent. That’s why programs like Pittsburgh’s AAUW Tech Savvy are so critical and why Alcoa Foundation is focusing on diversifying the city’s workforce.

Girls using microscopes

Photo Credit: Alcoa

“It’s great to see these young girls explore new interests and potential careers,” said Ryan Kish, Alcoa Foundation’s program manager. “What’s more, we know that a diverse STEM workforce is critical to the future success of advanced manufacturing. Supporting Tech Savvy is an investment in that future.”

Support STEM Education in Your Community and Beyond

Tech Trek web

Pittsburgh’s AAUW Tech Savvy students may create the next great STEM innovation. Those breakthroughs could revolutionize the technology, engineering, or manufacturing industries — and the cities that rely upon them.

Your generosity supports STEM education and programs like AAUW Tech Savvy. Donate now to continue that legacy of innovation, discovery, and revitalization. You can also contact partnerships@aauw.org to learn more about bringing AAUW Tech Savvy to your community.

Ryan Burwinkel By:   |   June 03, 2016

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