Teen-Turn addresses the numbers of third level qualifications, particularly those related to STEM, attained by women from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities. Teen-Turn achieves this by providing--from when participants are teenagers--ongoing hands-on experiences, exposure to consistent, invested role model mentors and long-term support through alumnae career development opportunities. ***** Teen-Turn aims to influence course decision-making processes, inform participants on education and career options, and combat stereotypes by strategically changing how girls from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities identify with STEM career environments through mentored summer wor... read more Teen-Turn addresses the numbers of third level qualifications, particularly those related to STEM, attained by women from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities. Teen-Turn achieves this by providing--from when participants are teenagers--ongoing hands-on experiences, exposure to consistent, invested role model mentors and long-term support through alumnae career development opportunities. ***** Teen-Turn aims to influence course decision-making processes, inform participants on education and career options, and combat stereotypes by strategically changing how girls from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities identify with STEM career environments through mentored summer work placements, after school activities and alumnae opportunities. Programming begins with a work placement in the summer after Junior Cert, during which participants are exposed to projects, introduced to role models and begin to blog about their time so that we can evaluate the effect of the experiences. From there, the girls have the option to join after school activities which include science projects for BTYSE/SciFest, the creation of a social enterprise and app development for Technovation, homework/grinds clubs, or related events like learning camps and incubators with company partners. Once participants have completed secondary school, they enter into our alumnae network--which offers numerous events to meet with fellow Teen-Turn participants, mentors who are women working in STEM roles, and career advisors all there to help with qualification completion and to build a professional network. What we do is empower our participants-to identify a STEM interest, to be supported in the pursuit of mastering skills and gaining qualifications related to that interest, and then provided the connections and social capital and ongoing reinforcement to develop a STEM career from that interest. We call it our 'Junior Cert to Job' commitment. ***** Our proposition is that more girls acquiring in-demand STEM skills will result in more women employed in STEM careers, addressing skills shortage, gender ratio and social inclusion challenges. This is done by initially introducing STEM careers through work experience, followed by after school STEM activities including science projects and app development, then bolstered by STEM club involvement and ongoing STEM learning, exam support, discussion and debate events and career workshops. NOTE: All activities, other than work placements, were successfully brought online during COVID-19 restrictions and can again if the need arises. Core Project Elements Summer Work Experience: girls in the summer after Junior Cert (aged 15) are introduced to STEM career environments at companies located near their homes; during this experience they are introduced to female role models, work on an actual project, learn to visualize themselves in a STEM workplace, and gain an understanding of the companies flourishing in their neighborhood thereby crossing what is often a corporate/community divide. After School Activities: (1) Project Squad, 13 weeks in autumn, participants learn about the scientific method, research methodology, experimentation, data collection, results reporting and visual presentations while mentored on projects of their own design by industry and academic women-in-STEM; (2) Technovation, 13 weeks in spring, participants learn how to build a business plan and develop a mobile app that addresses a community problem, including design thinking, scrum/lean methodology, market research, pitch and demo presentations, and computer programming principles such as loops, conditionals, variables, and databases again while mentored on projects of their own design by industry and academic women-in-STEM. Clubs: (1) Grinds, year round, senior cycle and exam support is provided on a fortnightly basis by university students imparting techniques for studying and improving habits and following NCCA curriculum materials; (2) Groundwork, year round, participants engage in ongoing person centered planning activities through monthly sessions conducted online by trained mentors who work with beneficiaries to develop plans that establish individual goals and what is needed in terms of support to achieve them with additional quarterly personal development workshops-this activity is particularly effective with those from our cohort who have disabilities. Term Break Camps (1) Incubators, during autumn and winter mid-term breaks, teams from our afterschool who produce work that could go into production/to market or, at the very least, be developed into a minimal viable product learn about and work on a strategy for commercializing their inventions or apps; (2) Devising Week, during Easter break, 'devising' for participants means to plan or invent for a four day period when learning skills, mentoring and career experience are combined to deliver instruction in using technologies to problem solve in ways that are relevant to and currently being done in industry. Alumnae Opportunities: girls who have completed secondary school can participate in offerings that are designed to be social and enable the building of support and professional networks including debate and discussion events, scholarship information and application workshops, CV, job hunt and interview training, study habits bootcamps, and "give-back" mentoring days. Teen-Turn works with school representatives, including school completion officers and guidance counselors, to identify girls with promise who lack the confidence or are challenged by home circumstances, learning difficulties, or other obstacles (including ASD) that prevent them from performing in school as well as they potentially can. Conscious that these at-risk girls have high attrition and low post-secondary education progression rates, our approach is both immersive and followed up with reinforcement along what we call the 'Junior Cert to Job' route. An important component to this intervention is that each girl interacts regularly with women-in-STEM mentors as learning in the presence of female role models has been shown to impact girls' self-image and confidence, encouraging them to see themselves in new ways and stimulate new interests. We also provide recurring skill training and personal development opportunities. ***** Teen-Turn seeks impact over impression, distinguishing itself by committing to support participants through multiple stages--secondary school, third level, and career--to combat the high drop-out rate which affects our beneficiary group. Teen-Turn focuses on long-term results through its 'Junior Cert to job' support system. We are on track to increase the number of disadvantaged girls entering third level/acquiring jobs by 1,000 by 2021 and expect to continue at a rate of at least 300 per year. Within five years we will have provided a significant number of disadvantaged girls in Ireland the social capital and skills experience necessary to acquire STEM qualifications and career opportunities. The impact is this development of a local talent pool of skilled women who can thrive in a STEM career environment from whom companies can hire. Resultant, too, is the knock on effect of their presence as role models to girls from their own communities. Our Theory of Change envisages this impact as reaching even further than broadening inclusion in STEM. In addition to the likelihood of participants finding meaningful employment in STEM, changing their own and possibly their families' standard of living, there are other possibilities. Because of the enterprise programming to which the participants are exposed and the frequent feedback reiterating an interest in starting a business, some Teen-Turn beneficiaries will start their own companies, becoming employers themselves. The qualifications attained combined with the professional network developed should position these individuals to succeed. Also, as a factor of a skills shortage is staff turnover, employee retention will be improved by there being a talent pool from which to draw who has ties to the neighboring communities. Lastly, studies indicate that when those from disadvantage are empowered to become active citizens, they also become powerful self advocates. It is our expectation that future policy makers and community lobbyists will emerge from our cohort, already evident on a few of the girls' blogs.
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