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  1. Rebecca Lewis
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-lewis-8173357/
  3. Managing Project Director
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Sarita Pillai
  2. http://ltd.edc.org/people/sarita-pillai
  3. Vice President
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Brianna Roche
  2. https://www.edc.org/staff/brianna-roche
  3. Research Associate
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)

Engaging and Retaining Female Veterans in the STEM Workforce: An NSF INCLUDES...

NSF Awards: 1932651

2022 (see original presentation & discussion)

Adult learners

Education Development Center (EDC) was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to hold an NSF INCLUDES convening on engaging and retaining women veterans in the STEM workforce. The convening examined how to leverage the unique strengths of women veterans to address barriers to their (re) engagement in the STEM workforce, particularly those from populations currently underrepresented in STEM fields. While there has been an increase in programs and support services for veterans, for women, and to help bring people from underrepresented groups into STEM, there is currently no structure or system to align all these efforts in a cohesive and effective way to serve women veterans. This virtual convening brought together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers; leadership representing universities and community colleges, nonprofit organizations, and federal agencies that serve veterans; and women veterans to address this issue through an intersectional lens. It focused on two overarching questions:

  • What is the current landscape of veterans’ support services that specifically target women? and
  • How can we develop and leverage existing services to provide more targeted outreach to engage, train, and retain women veterans in the STEM workforce?


Prior to the convening, we developed “state of the state” synthesis reports that were disseminated to attendees and the public. The reports are aligned with the convening strands: Women Veteran Health & Well-being, Women Veteran Transitions to the Civilian Workforce, STEM Education for Women Veterans, and STEM Workforce for Women Veterans. After the convening, we curated a set of targeted recommendations and resources related to STEM careers for women veterans. 

Check out our final recommendations report, conveening proceedings, and white papers on our website Women Veterans in STEM.

 

Video Credits (in order of appearance)

Dr. Tomika W. Greer
Assistant Professor, University of Houston
Women Veterans in STEM Co-Chair

Melissa Boatright | Army Veteran
Chief of Staff, Member and Customer Success, LinkedIn
Women Veterans in STEM Keynote Presenter

Kelly Greene | Army Veteran
Chief Operations Officer, SciTech Institute
Women Veterans in STEM Committee Member

Tony Dean | Navy Veteran
Professor Engineering Technology, Old Dominion University
Women Veterans in STEM Co-Chair

Rosalinda Maury
Director of Applied Research and Analytics, IVMF, Syracuse University
Women Veterans in STEM Co-Chair

Rebecca Lewis
Managing Project Director, Education Development Center
Women Veterans in STEM Principal Investigator

Dr. Ashley Huderson 
Director of Engineering Education and Outreach, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Women Veterans in STEM Committee Member

Dallas Blaney PhD | Navy Veteran
Executive Director, Challenge America
Women Veterans in STEM Advisor

Lieutenant Colonel Frank Barrow | Army Veteran
Director of Army Instruction, Mobile County Public School System
Women Veterans in STEM Committee Member

Dr. Mindi Anderson | Air Force National Guard
CEO, Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce
Women Veterans in STEM Advisor

Brianna Roche (narrator)
Research Associate, Education Development Center
Women Veterans in STEM Project Staff

Jesse Campbell (editor) 
Technology Associate, Education Development Center

Kissy Canela (additional support) 
Project Coordinator, Education Development Center

 

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Discussion from the 2022 STEM For All Video Showcase (23 posts)
  • Icon for: Barbara Hopkins

    Barbara Hopkins

    Science Education Consultant
    May 10, 2022 | 09:10 a.m.

    Hi Rebecca: This is a great idea and I would love to see some of these strong women in our educational system, as teachers and administrators! My son is in the military and throughout his training, I have met some incredible young women making a difference everywhere they go. I look forward to reading more on your website!

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 10, 2022 | 10:05 a.m.

    Hi Barbara, absolutely agree. Luckily the Troops to Teachers program was reinstated last year, after being canceled the year prior. Those who have served our country can be great role models for young people to think about service and careers. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Brianna Roche

    Brianna Roche

    Co-Presenter
    Research Associate
    May 10, 2022 | 10:06 a.m.

    Hi Barbara, I agree!  The program aims to support women Veterans as they pursue education and employment, especially in STEM.  Through this project I have met many inspiring women Veterans and they have been at the heart of our work.  Feel free to share our work with your son, we're always interested in connecting with new potential partners!

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 10, 2022 | 11:25 a.m.

     Thank you so much for visiting our video! While we are wrapping up our grant, we have learned so much from this work and are excited to share what we’ve done to date to help build pathways for women veterans into STEM careers as well as what we hope to do.

    The women who serve our country deserve every opportunity to successfully transition from military to civilian life and the workforce. And they have much to bring to the STEM workforce. Congress, recognizing the importance of engaging veterans in the STEM workforce, enacted the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, which directs NSF to “encourage Veterans to study and pursue careers in STEM and computer science” (2020). The goal of the Act is to strengthen the STEM workforce by bringing Veterans’ many strengths—leadership, teamwork, problem-solving skills, resilience and persistence—to the civilian workforce.

    Our project preceded the passage of the Act. It was funded through a Dear Colleague Letter released in early 2019. The goal of our work was to synthesize what is already known about how to successfully engage and support women veterans in STEM careers, and to make share this knowledge so that we can build robust pathways to better engage women veterans in STEM fields. To do so, we engaged a broad range of stakeholders in our work, and worked collectively to develop a set of recommendations for making a significant impact in this area.

    Our work found that while many resources exist to support veterans, and local programs exist that support women veterans to enter certain fields, a cohesive national strategy and infrastructure is needed to make a significant difference. Specifically, we need:

    1. A cohesive, national stakeholder community dedicated to broadening participation in STEM by women Veterans
    2. To expand and enhance support services necessary for the successful transition and retention of women Veterans to STEM professions
    3. To raise broad awareness among key stakeholders of the synergies between women Veterans’ skills/strengths and STEM employability
    4. To engage and inform policy, education and training, and industry stakeholders to increase opportunities for women Veterans to pursue and stay in STEM careers

    EDC and its partners are seeking to do just that with our project, and to build a collective impact initiative from our current project to launch some of the activities that we know are needed to help women veterans. Some of the research questions that we seek to answer are:

    1. What resources are needed by organizations to help them design and implement programs to engage and support different subpopulations of women veterans?
    2. What successes and challenges do programs report in engaging and supporting different subpopulations of women veterans?
    3. What do women veterans say they need more or less of in the programs designed to serve them?
    4. What are successful strategies that programs can implement to better support women veterans pursuing STEM careers?

    We welcome your thoughts and questions.

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Dr. Marie Mora
    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Kelly Greene

    Kelly Greene

    Chief Operations Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 06:05 p.m.

    Thank you for the opportunity to work on this project! Excited to see more feedback in the comments and future opportunities to collaborate for showcasing STEM careers. The transition plans have improved, but there is still work to be done. Today, let's celebrate the success of the project and plan for more in the future! Kudos, EDC.

     
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    Brianna Roche
    Mindi Anderson
    Rebecca Lewis
    Courtney Arthur
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 11, 2022 | 02:22 p.m.

    Thank you Kelly for sharing your ideas and being part of this project. We couldn't do this without you!

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Facilitator
    Former Program Officer
    May 11, 2022 | 12:44 p.m.

    This project aggregates information from many sources to develop a more coherent strategy to encourage women veterans to pursue STEM careers.  It will be interesting to see how it improves the diversity of the parts of the STEM workforce.  Often in trying to support one group, one learns something new to advance everyone.  What are you learning that could be used to support other groups as well?   

     

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 11, 2022 | 04:19 p.m.

    Absolutely correct--much of what we have learned is applicable to other groups. We've included many of these lessons in our recommendations, with recommendations and lessons intended to help different stakeholder groups. These recommendations run the gamut from having mentoring for new women veteran students to navigate the academic world to the importance of paid internships that specifically are marketed to women veterans to connecting with local and national nonprofit organizations that offer support and resources for recruiting and hiring veterans and integrating them into the workplace. In almost all cases, we could substitute any group that has been historically marginalized from STEM here, as women veterans are not a monolith and represent many populations that have been historically marginalized, and not just in STEM. The key takeaway, not surprisingly, is to tailor programs to meet the needs of the intended audience, rather than assuming that just by having the opportunity, the audience can and will engage!

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Mindi Anderson

    Mindi Anderson

    Executive Director
    May 11, 2022 | 09:40 p.m.

    What an honor to be a part of this initiative from the Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce.  The need to put a laser focus on our veterans in STEM and the women that are making history, and persevering through the stigmas associated with women in the military and what they can bring to our workforce to be a solution to solving some of our future challenges in the STEM space.  What an honor to be in this video with our friend Dr. Trill from Free to Feed.  We have had the opportunity to watch her grow in her invention and company.  She is changing the future for the women in the military by leading the way in her tireless efforts to follow her dreams, her passion, and her desire to give back to our community while she serves in the military.  The future is bright, and we look forward to being a part of the success ahead. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Brianna Roche
    Kelly Greene
    Rebecca Lewis
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 12, 2022 | 10:05 a.m.

    And we are so excited to be working with you and the Idaho Veterans Chamber, Mindi! Hopefully we can continue to build these critical pathways. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Margie Vela

    Margie Vela

    Facilitator
    CEO & President
    May 11, 2022 | 09:56 p.m.

    This is such an important initiative that has multifaceted benefits to STEM, women, the economy, innovation, policy, etc. We often have diversity programs that affect benefit beyond the intended outcome. How are you measuring impact and are there any unintended benefits that you saw after you began evaluation of the program?

    Great work! 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 12, 2022 | 10:03 a.m.

    Hi Margie, thank you for the comments. Because this was a convening rather than a project, we haven't been able to engage in much impact evaluation, but one unintended benefit that we have seen is the commitment and engagement of the stakeholders that we brought together to make a difference in this space. We worked together with these stakeholders to submit a proposal for an INCLUDES Alliance, and are seeking other opportunities to collaborate with one another to drive this work forward. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Brianna Roche

    Brianna Roche

    Co-Presenter
    Research Associate
    May 12, 2022 | 02:34 p.m.

    One of the key strengths of our project was the diversity of our partners and participants - this has led to meaningful conversations that incorporated multiple perspectives resulting in more robust products. Approximately half of the convening's 69 attendees were veterans (both men and women, n = 34, 49%), and the majority were women veterans (n = 28, 41%). We conducted an evaluation of the convening to measure the event's success. 78% of respondents said the convening was excellent overall, and 83% strongly agreed they were satisfied with the workgroup sessions. One convening participant said, “The amount of knowledge collected by the focus groups going into the event, combined with actionable feedback during the event, was the most positive aspect for me. The data and recommendations will go a long way towards writing derivative policies and programs at our respective organizations. The content can even add to justifications on grant applications to support this work.”

    We've disseminated our final report to a wide audience, including 182 people via email (Convening registrants and e-newsletter subscribers which includes STEM industry employers, leadership in higher education institutes, women veteran serving non-profit organizations and federal agencies that serve women veterans such as the VA, DoD, and Department of Labor). The report has also been sent to over 40 key senators and congress people who were members of the Senate or House Veteran Affairs Committee, Armed Services Committee, and champions for veteran issues. The tweet with the report's release had 2,601 impressions (76 engagements: 18 likes, 13 retweets).

     

    We've disseminated our final report to a wide audience, including 182 people via email (Convening registrants and e-newsletter subscribers which includes STEM industry employers, leadership in higher education institutes, women veteran serving non-profit organizations and federal agencies that serve women veterans such as the VA, DoD, and Department of Labor). The report has also been sent to over 40 key senators and congress people who were members of the Senate or House Veteran Affairs Committee, Armed Services Committee, and champions for veteran issues.  The tweet with report release had 2,601 impressions (76 engagements: 18 likes, 13 retweets).

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Rebecca Lewis
  • Icon for: Chris Dede

    Chris Dede

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2022 | 06:47 a.m.

    Rebecca, this is an exciting project. We are planning to develop tools and insights from our work in the National Institute for Adult Education and Online Learning that may be helpful to you.

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 12, 2022 | 09:50 a.m.

    Thank you Chris--we will definitely check out your work. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Brianna Roche

    Brianna Roche

    Co-Presenter
    Research Associate
    May 12, 2022 | 02:46 p.m.

    Hi Chris, your work looks really interesting!  As organizations and institutes of higher learning are working to make AI education more accessible it may be of interest to incorporate strategies to boost participation of women Veterans.  One of our recommendation reports is tailored for this audience specifically, I'll share the link below, and don't hesitate to reach out if you'd like to connect on this further!

    Recommendations to Strengthen the Pipeline from Service to STEM: For Institutions of Training and
    Higher Education Institutes

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Rebecca Lewis
  • Icon for: Maia Punksungka

    Maia Punksungka

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2022 | 01:02 p.m.

    Thanks for bringing this important initiative to our radar. Based on your team's interactions with women veterans, what are the major barriers that they have when it comes to accessing STEM education and career opportunities? 

    My project focuses on the role of community colleges in promoting students' technical and basic skills. Our population includes first-year students and adult learners -- some who may also be veterans. What programs, policies, or pedagogies do you recommend we keep an eye on throughout our research that relates to supporting and advancing women veteran in STEM?

     
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    Mindi Anderson
    Rebecca Lewis
  • Icon for: Brianna Roche

    Brianna Roche

    Co-Presenter
    Research Associate
    May 12, 2022 | 04:13 p.m.

    Hi Maia, thanks for asking!  Two of our papers are tailored specifically towards higher education and I'll share the links below.  As a preview of some of the content I'll also share an excerpt from one of our papers, but at a very high level the first step is identifying your veteran population.  Sometimes this is as simple as asking for some stats from admissions, and sometimes a more in-depth exploration is needed.  Women veterans in particular tend to not self-disclose their veteran status so they can be a hard to identify group.

    "What ongoing support is required to retain women veterans
    pursuing STEM degrees? The first step is to learn who women veterans are.

    Women are the fastest growing population for both military and veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But women still may be seen as an “invisible minority”—meaning they often have to self-disclose their veteran status. It is important to know who our women veterans are, in order to provide programming for their STEM recruiting efforts.

    While there are some programs tailored to women in STEM, few have been created specifically to help retain women veterans.  Some campuses provide women-veteran–specific programming, such as groups that are tailored to supporting the stated needs of women veterans and have a focus on diversity and inclusion. Many women report using campus veteran resource centers when they are available, but fewer than 15% are involved in social groups.  In general, programs designed to help increase STEM retention are focused on the greater population of students or on women generally. There is a need to adapt such programs to the requirements of women veterans, since they can have specific issues that may affect their retention in STEM."  

     

    Women Veterans in STEM Reports on Education:

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Chris Dede

    Chris Dede

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2022 | 01:09 p.m.

    Maia, we are too early in our work to have answers to your questions, but we are definitely interested in this population of learners and hope to develop insights over time.

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Tim Podkul

    Tim Podkul

    Facilitator
    Senior Research Advisor
    May 13, 2022 | 02:50 p.m.

    This is fabulous work, and hopefully enhanced by your participation in the NSF INCLUDES National Network! I noticed your overview of the sectors where your recommendations are being targeted. Are the armed forces themselves another area your project is focusing on? I am curious if opportunities have been explored to learn more about where within their service women can begin to learn more about the opportunities that exist after leaving their position within the armed forces. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 13, 2022 | 03:05 p.m.

    Thank you for the comments, Tim, and we definitely appreciated being and benefitted from part of the NSK INCLUDES National Network. The military is absolutely one of the stakeholder groups we are targeting with our recommendations. While transition services have improved in recent years, there still is variability in the experiences of service personnel, and the military needs to also consider its culture and how it approaches serving women service members. Some of our recommendations aimed at the military include:

    • Ensure that transition planning starts long before departure for all service personnel and continues beyond service.
    • Ensure that all service members, independent of their leadership, role, or post, receive the same level of transition support, including post-military career planning (pre-transition), support during the transition, and post-transition resources.
    • Create a single transition services office that serves all branches in order to share existing resources and create a consistent transition plan for service members.
    • Engaging companies and organizations that have committed to hiring and retaining veterans in programs for service members, including job fairs.
    • Hire an independent external agency to conduct an assessment of the Transition Assistance Program, with a particular focus on the unique experiences, needs, and challenges of women veterans; how the program has worked and not worked for them; and what improvements they suggest. Translate the assessment findings into actions.

    This last point is key--there needs to be action taken!

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Christine Royce

    Christine Royce

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2022 | 07:18 p.m.

    This is an amazing program that allows the team to capitalize on underrepresented groups who are already engaged in STEM and also to help soldiers/veterans transition to civilian jobs.  In reading all of the comments above, it seems as if there is definitely a positive response to this from those viewing the STEM Showcase.  A question I have is how challenging has it been to continue to involve veterans after more time "out of" the service?

     
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    Mindi Anderson
  • Icon for: Rebecca Lewis

    Rebecca Lewis

    Lead Presenter
    Managing Project Director
    May 16, 2022 | 08:55 a.m.

    Hi Christine, great question! Especially for female veterans, they tend to not identify themselves as veterans, so it is certainly a challenge to make sure that programs and benefits speak to and reach them. This tendency to not self-identify as veterans is part of the rationale behind our call for a national center to support women veterans in STEM--so many of the services aimed at veterans are programs begun for and marketed toward men (it's amazing to look at the websites and see few if any women in the images--and most of the women shown appear to be the spouse of a soldier or veteran). Some of our partner organizations specifically focus on women veterans, and they are able to engage many women because they are focused on their needs. As with any population, women veterans are a diverse group of people, and yet their needs are distinctive from those of their male colleagues. 

     
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    Mindi Anderson
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