UPDATE: Holy Bos taurus! We did it! But we still need your help and support!
Thanks so much to everyone who has pledged, shared, and supported cuSTEMized and our Kickstarter campaign! We are still raising funds to meet Stretch Goals so please see the Updates tab for more information!
Thanks again to everyone for making this all possible!
Where are the girls?
I'm a girl and I'm in STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math that is! Currently, I'm pursuing my PhD at Harvard in bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary subject that combines computer science and biomedical engineering – both STEM subjects. I'm the only girl in my program this year. Unfortunately, the lack of girls in STEM is not limited to my program, which begs the question: where are the girls?
So what's the problem?
According to the US Department of Commerce, girls (women, females, Homo sapiens with two X chromosomes, whatever term you wish to use to refer to us) remain vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs as well as among STEM degree holders. Despite filling nearly half of all jobs in the US, girls hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. And despite the rising number of girls pursuing college degrees, girls hold a disproportionally low share of STEM degrees. So what's the problem?
The problem is multifold but studies suggest that it may start as early as grade school: girls are rarely encouraged to pursue STEM subjects or to envision themselves with STEM careers. Indeed, a recent study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that women are more likely to drop out of STEM fields because they lack a "self-concept" of themselves as scientists – they could not picture themselves in STEM!
To address this problem, a group of friends and I launched cuSTEMized as a not-for-profit initiative to help girls envision themselves with STEM careers and to encourage them to pursue STEM fields. Our book, _'s Little Book of Big Dreams is a colorful 32 page 8x10 picture book written in rhyme that describes various STEM careers and how they can impact the world!
"________ is an astronaut who flies into space,
Searching for the presence of an alien race.
She floats among the planets, moons, and stars,
To become the first person to land on Mars!"
What makes _'s Little Book of Big Dreams truly unique is that your daughter (or niece, or whoever) is the hero: a website will allow you to customize the book to have your daughter's name and general appearance with the help of avatars. You can then download the book (for free!) as a PDF and print it out yourself or contribute a donation to cover the costs of having the book printed and shipped.
In this manner, we hope to create a truly customized message and reach each and every girl individually to help them envision themselves in STEM starting from a young age. Although we have written the book for a K-5 audience, we hope that its message can resonate with girls of all ages in any stage of their schooling or career.
But we need you to make this happen!
We have already finished the book and are currently beta-testing and revising the story and graphics with the help of family, friends, and their children. Through Kickstarter, we hope to raise the much needed funds to fully implement, launch, and maintain the website!
Additional ways you can help!
- Email your friends asking them to check out this Kickstarter page
- Share this Kickstarter page on your Facebook wall or Twitter
- Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cuSTEMized) or follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/custemized) to keep up with updates and developments
- Most importantly, talk to the girls in your life and encourage them to pursue STEM!
For questions or comments, feel free to contact us directly at get.cuSTEMized@gmail.com
Thank you so much for your support!
Risks and challenges
As with any web development, unforeseen technical challenges may arise particularly with 1) the consistency and quality of font and graphics rendering on different web browsers and operating systems, 2) coordinating image alignment and z-indexes, and 3) automating the hardcover book ordering process. But rest assured that whatever challenges arise, this team will put our heads together and find a solution!
Our development team consists of yours truly along with quality assurance software developer Curry Chern with additional consulting and support from software developer Mandeep Bedi.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)