Around the world today, the technology community is celebrating Lovelace and the many women in technology who’ve followed in her footsteps. Here at Creative Commons, we think a lot about women in science and technology and the untapped potential we have yet to realize. In his speech to the United Nations a few weeks ago, President Obama spoke of the importance of women and girls in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The White House identified Creative Commons as a key member of an emerging community of practice supporting girls in STEM.
A few days later, Creative Commons and the OpenCourseWare Consortium announced that we’d formed a task force to determine how open educational resources (OER) can support the success of girls and women in STEM fields. As I said in that announcement, the challenges of the future will require bright, ambitious, well-educated people of both genders.
Many people reading this probably know that the OER movement played a pivotal role in my career. When I was at the Hewlett Foundation, we made a gamble in starting our OER initiative. At that time, OER was an untested idea. Today, those early investments are paying off, with open-licensed resources benefitting women, men, boys, and girls around the world, many of whom wouldn’t otherwise have access to high-quality educational materials that can be localized and improved for teaching and learning.
But like Lovelace, we’re not yet satisfied. Last month’s groundbreaking open textbook legislation in California was a huge step in the right direction, but it was just one step. We must keep the end vision in mind: together, we can democratize education through openly licenses resources, tools and processes. While we can’t create future Ada Lovelaces in a lab, we can provide for a culture of education that rises to the challenge of its most curious learners.
Cable Green, September 28th, 2012
Mountain View, CA and Cambridge, MA — Creative Commons and the OpenCourseWare Consortium announce the formation of a task force to determine how open educational resources (OER) can support the success of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in support of the Equal Futures Partnership, announced on September 24 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The gender gap in participation in STEM areas around the world is significant,” said Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons. “We need to address the barriers to girls’ success in STEM to ensure that the future is filled with bright, ambitious, well-educated people of both genders who are able to contend with future global challenges.”
The OER-STEM task force will examine how OER can attract and support girls in STEM education, including additional support services necessary to ensure high levels of success. OER are high-quality educational materials that are openly licensed and shared at no cost, allowing learners and educators to use, adapt, change and add information to suit their education goals. The task force will include experts in STEM education for girls and women along with experts in OER to determine specific projects that will advance achievement in these important areas.
“We are seeking innovative support solutions for girls to succeed in STEM subjects using open educational resources,” said Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium. “Since OER can be accessed freely by anyone, anywhere, and modified to fit different cultural contexts and learning needs around the world, we are looking at this issue from a global perspective.”