First, a lack of women in the sciences has been a problem for over 50 years. It has been shown that mentoring programs, especially those focused on STEM fields, help young women and girls to envision themselves as engineers, mathematicians and other types of scientists such as atmospheric science and related fields that are not commonly discussed or highlighted in K-12 curriculum. One avenue to improve this situation are Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics (EYH) conferences that were created to promote and foster interest for girls in the areas of science and math. The conferences are held with hopes that girls who attend will be encouraged to consider careers in these disciplines. EYH and related conferences for young women increase the likelihood that they will pursue science and math in secondary educational settings. This is essential in a world in which few girls are choosing science and math as potential careers. UH Manoa has held two EYH events, the 1st Annual EYH-Hawaii on April 2014 for 5th-9th grade girls, and the 2nd Annual event on April 18, 2015. Attendance increased from the 1st to second year from 118 to 143, respectively, while doubling the number of workshops from 11 to 22. Workshop topics ranged from atmospheric sciences, mathematics, chemistry oceanography, marine biology, earth science, physics related topics and more.
Second, once students, including women, commit to an education in a STEM field, it is imperative that they are prepared for the challenges and requirements of current academic, public and private employment opportunities. To improve student success in employment after obtaining a graduate degree a graduate level atmospheric sciences course called “Satellite Data Applications” was developed and implemented at the UH Manoa in Spring 2015. This first offering of this course attracted a total of 10 graduate students at various stages of their graduate education, ranging from 1st–year Masters Students to A.B.D. Doctoral Candidates. The goal of this course is to provide graduate students with an interest in atmospheric, oceanographic, and environmental topics with skills that are useful for their current thesis related research and be valuable for future work and employment. Through the coursework students are trained to acquire, process, and analyze numerous freely available current and historical satellite datasets from agencies such as NASA and NOAA using Matlab and other data processing software. To prepare students for future fellowship applications and grant proposals they are required to produce a mock proposal on a research topic of their choice, usually related to their current thesis work, as a final project utilizing at least three datasets.
Successes of both initiatives were documented through surveys and student comments. The 3rd Annual EYN – Hawaii will take place on April 16th, 2016 and is currently being planned. The graduate course “Satellite Data Applications” will be taught every other odd Spring semester, with the next course offering being Spring 2017.