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The Cortland and Ithaca branches of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) have been awarded a $5,000 grant to help fund Tech Savvy, a daylong event designed to show girls firsthand how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields can lead to exciting careers.

Cornell employees Debra Howell and Patrice Prusko are both heavily involved in the event. Howell, the IT director for Infrastructure Properties and Planning (IPP), is the volunteer coordinator for the event, and Prusko, an instructional designer in Cornell Information Technologies’ Academic Technology department, is the curriculum coordinator.

Up to 120 girls in 6th-9th grades, and their families, will gather at Tompkins Cortland Community College on Saturday, April 9, 2016. The day’s schedule will include hands-on STEM and skills workshops for girls, in addition to programming for parents and caregivers to help them reinforce girls’ interest in STEM. The event will be the only Tech Savvy conference held in New York State during the 2015/2016 year.

“Last year’s conference was a big hit with students and parents alike. This year’s program will be even more informative and engaging. It is designed to assure girls they can be physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers, professions that few females pursue right now,” say Sheila Cohen, Chair of Cortland’s 2015 Tech Savvy conference.

Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than twenty-five percent of STEM jobs. The Cortland and Ithaca AAUW branch hosts one of twenty-two programs nationwide designed to improve those numbers.

Tech Savvy and similar programs are one way to increase the number of women in the STEM pipeline. Other recommendations, including suggestions for employers, appear in AAUW’s new research report, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing.

“STEM’s gender problem is well known,” said Jill Birdwhistell, AAUW Chief Operating Officer. “We’re working with parents, teachers, and employers on solutions like Tech Savvy because attracting and retaining women in STEM fields isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”

Created in 2006 by Tamara Brown, then-president of the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch, Tech Savvy has since served more than 3,500 girls. As a result of her work, Brown was honored as a White House Champion of Change.

More on the AAUW: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university partners. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, our members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. Learn more at



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