Interview with Arylene Reycraft – Program Manager of Techsploration
Q: What is it about Techsploration that has made it so effective and successful?
R:The idea of role models. We have some of our earliest girls coming back as role models, and these role models are directly changing people’s lives. All students, both male and female need to see women in science as normal, they need to be aware that it “just is”. For female students, role models act as a way to see that they aren’t the first ones to have taken the more difficult steps, and that it is possible. The role models in our program will never know how they’ve changed the lives of the students, of their siblings, of their communities.
Q:What are the commitments students have to make to be part of the Techsploration program?
R:It is a one-year commitment for student. The program starts usually in January-February until June depending on the school. As part of the school team, the girls get to spend days at worksites, they get to do research, write an essay, attend and present at workshops and our larger conference. No school ever has to pay; it is completely free for the girls.
Q:What are some of the struggles you still see with women in the sciences?
R:While there isn’t as much, it still happens, there are still struggles, more so in the trades. We hear a lot of girls thinking they can’t do it, that they aren’t smart enough or they aren’t good enough at math. Employers I personally think still discriminate against women in certain science fields. It’s getting a lot better, but sometimes they just won’t hire females, especially when you’re expected to be in 18 hour plus days, if you’re a young mother that just won’t happen, and employers know that. I think one of the biggest changes though is that employers are starting to see the benefits of having a well-rounded work-life, it’s happening slowly and it’s been a huge challenge, but it is happening.
Watch as Arylene describes some of the benefits of Techsploration for girls:
Q:What are some of the main reasons girls join Techsploration?
R:They join because it is fun. That is one of the bigger things we are hearing. Because their siblings did it, they maybe heard a role-model from the previous year speak and they thought it was cool. Sometimes, it’s that their teacher made them, and then they discovered it was the best thing. There are also scholarships for students, not a lot, but we do offer some.
Q:How important is this program and others like it for girls?
R:Once you can say something is life-altering, I think it shows its importance, and I can truly say this program is life-altering. Introducing math, and sciences and its relevance is invaluable. Being able to introduce girls to careers and people they might not have otherwise heard of is also very important. You’re helping to dictate these girls’ future. Beyond the students, we also need to do a better job of networking our role-models with each other. For many of them they are the only female in their careers, and that’s tough. Being able to speak with other women who are going through the same thing can help give them the strength and courage to keep going.