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December 20, 2010 - Conference to Show Girls That Science Careers Are Rewarding and Attainable

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Presented by the Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (OK EPSCoR), in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the National Science Foundation, Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma NASA Space Grant and Oklahoma INBRE, the annual Women in Science Conference will be held Feb. 8 at Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.

Five hundred students and teachers from schools across Oklahoma will participate in the free, one-day conference that is designed to engage students in grades six through 12 in hands-on science activities; provide real-life examples of science and technology career opportunities from accomplished professional women; and Oklahoma college, university and outreach representatives help students identify their interests and prepare a plan for college.

“The primary goal of the Women in Science Conference is to show students that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers are exciting, attainable and rewarding,” said Gina Miller, OK EPSCoR outreach coordinator.

The conference will be kicked off by keynote speaker Katie Siek, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder and leader of the CU Wellness Innovation and Interaction Lab. Siek, a young mother, educator and scientist, will speak to conference attendees about how an event in her life inspired her to change research areas and, in turn, help others through innovative, computer-based research. Siek’s work has provided nurses with new technologies to better care for premature infants and assisted in the development of hand-held devices to benefit the health of people with reading difficulties.

“Oklahoma EPSCoR is delighted to assist in sponsoring the 2011 Women in Science Conference,” said James Wicksted, OK EPSCoR associate director. “Now in its ninth year, the conference will, once again, host a distinguished group of women scientists and engineers who will share their experiences with attendees. Panelists will include KFOR meteorologist Emily Sutton, FAA Visual Guidance Team engineer Christine G. Co, Oklahoma Aquarium biologist Michelle Lynn Zarantonello, among others.”

Special sessions for teachers will provide educators with valuable information about summer research opportunities, classroom resource materials and suggestions for supporting and encouraging young women’s interest in STEM disciplines.

According to a 2009 study by Janet S. Hyde and Janet E. Mertz published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the achievement gap in mathematics between boys and girls no longer exists. The study shows that girls at all grade levels are on a par with boys on U.S. standardized mathematics tests. However, the 2008 Science and Engineering Indicators Report observed that, although participation continues to increase, women today constitute only about one-fourth, or 26 percent, of the college-educated workforce in STEM occupations.

“The Women in Science Conference seeks to increase participation of women in these fields by reaching young women early in their academic careers,” said Miller.

Applications to attend the conference are now being accepted on the EPSCoR website at Teachers may register a maximum of 10 students and two adults per school. Registration ends Jan. 15 or when maximum occupancy is reached.

Registration for the conference is now closed, and a waiting list has been established to fill potential vacancies. To be added to list or for more information about the conference, contact Gina Miller, OK EPSCoR outreach coordinator, at (405) 744-7645 or