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Girl Power

12/29/2014 02:41PM ● Published by Style

Top L to R: Morgen Embry, Callie Adams and Alena Parat; Bottom L to R: Jan Ives, Gianna Compagno and Lee Boylan – Photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

Gallery: American Association of University Women – Cause & Effect Jan. 2015 [6 Images] Click any image to expand.

Empowering women. This motto says it all, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a national nonprofit with a long history of doing just that. Since its inception in 1881, AAUW has taken on educational, social, economic and political challenges to improve the lives of millions of women and girls. There are more than 1,000 branches across the country, including Foothills of El Dorado County.

AAUW members come from all walks of life and hold a variety of professions, from doctors and lawyers to schoolteachers, business executives and scientists. “While we have the phrase ‘university women’ in our title, our reach is much broader than that,” says Deepti Gudipati, vice president of Member Leadership programs for AAUW in Washington, DC. “We have more than 170,000 members and supporters—both men and women—more than 800 college and university partner members, plus members in all congressional districts.” 

AAUW’s members also span generations, from college students and career women to retirees. “Belonging to AAUW gives members a built-in network of potential mentors and friends who care about the same things: achieving their educational and career dreams and empowering other women do the same,” Gudipati explains. 

A particular focus for the AAUW in 2015 is to engage more women and girls in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Currently, women make up only 25 percent of the computing workforce and 14 percent of the engineering workforce. “Getting more women into these fields isn’t only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do,” Gudipati enthuses. “The solutions to problems of this century—from providing universal access to health care and eradicating poverty to curing cancer—will require the skills of engineers and computer scientists, and the perspectives that come from diverse minds. When women are not represented in these fields, we’re missing out on half our potential for innovation.”

The local Foothills of El Dorado County AAUW branch is on board to promote the STEM projects through its Tech Trek program, which “helps to send seventh grade girls who [excel] in math and science to a summer camp at UC Davis,” says Patricia Garon, co-president of the local branch. “This provides a fun experience for them in hands-on math and science projects, and helps to keep them in these programs in high school. It also addresses the lack of women in these professions nationwide.”

  The girls also meet professional women at the camp who introduce them to the exciting careers they can look forward to in the world of science, technology, engineering and math; and take courses in subjects like robotics, physics, engineering, genetics and computer science. The branch’s annual fund-raiser for Tech Trek typically takes place in October.

“We also give out scholarships to women who’ve taken a hiatus from studying for a degree,” Garon explains. “Our help allows them to continue their education and get that necessary degree.”
For more information, visit aauw-placerville.org.

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