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Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE)

HSWRI Project Leaders – Dr. Pam Yochem

Goal – The goal of the Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE) program is to increase the number of girls in San Diego County who might consider science or engineering as career options. HSWRI conducts workshops as a part of BE WiSE events that enable these young women to participate in a scientific adventure that includes hands-on demonstrations, workshops and projects, all led by women who work in science every day.

Importance – HSWRI scientists are dedicated to and enthusiastic about reaching out to young people to share their passion for science and to encourage science and technology as 21st century career choices. The BE WiSE program is in complete alignment with HSWRI’s science literacy objectives and it is our goal to provide this opportunity for San Diego girls as an introduction to the careers and higher education opportunities available in the field of marine research.

Background – HSWRI partners with the San Diego Science Alliance and SeaWorld to host a BE WiSE event, helping local middle school girls discover the benefits of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) studies. HSWRI is one of only three organizations invited in 2015 to participate in a series of event workshops that kick off a semester of science mentoring for the girls.

Seventh and eighth-grade students from any school in San Diego County are encouraged to apply to participate in BE WiSE. To be considered, the students must write an essay about women in science and be recommended by their science teacher. Each BE WiSE event group is carefully assembled from different schools to encourage diversity and group bonding.

HSWRI is a site of choice for BE WiSE events as the San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA) prefers locations where science demonstrations and activities can take place, especially where women in science work every day.

Methods and Results – Approximately 40 seventh and eighth grade girls from all over San Diego County and all economic background are chosen to participate in the event. HSWRI Senior Research Scientist and Executive Vice President, Dr. Pam Yochem provides an inspirational keynote speech at the welcome/dinner reception, and several of our female scientists present extremely high-level, interactive workshops based on the event theme and the science that they conduct.
Why does this program matter? – HSWRI is an extraordinary scientific entity with an unparalleled track record of results, including groundbreaking marine mammal research, the world’s only successful white seabass stock enhancement program, long-term research studies on pinnipeds in our local channel islands investigating the impact of zoonotic diseases (diseases transmissible between humans and animals), and critical breakthroughs in the area of noise impacts on animals.

However, the work of our scientists is only valuable if the mantle is carried into the future. Our researchers are passionate about what they do and make a point of reaching out to young people, particularly to students traditionally underrepresented in science and technology programs. To that end, we have developed a variety of programs that include educational partnerships, mentoring and community outreach. One of these is our participation in the San Diego Science Alliance’s BE WiSE Science Overnight program. Again, HSWRI is one of only three San Diego institutions that has been invited to participate in the BE WiSE Overnight program in 2015, and we are extremely interested in supporting this worthwhile event.


Funding and Donation Opportunities

In accordance with our public-trust mission, HSWRI seeks to expand the public benefits derived from its public- and privately-funded research through the development and implementation of outreach, mentoring and training programs for young scientists, university and K-12 students, educators and the general public. Lack of federal funding continues to negatively impact our modest Education and Outreach budget and, as we learned during our participation in past BE WiSE events, there are significant expenses associated with this event. HSWRI scientists’ participation in each year’s BE WiSE workshops totals $28,000 and annual donor support is needed to underwrite their continued participation.