Gender Stem - Forum

UK Facilitators Reflections (Career Circles)

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UK Facilitators Reflections (Career Circles)
by Carolyn Usher - Thursday, 3 December 2015, 12:09 PM


I would like to share here my feedback and reflections from delivering the Career Circles with both VET Teachers and Girls in STEM. Please comment and contribute your own experiences! 

We recently finished the first pilots of both sets of Circles (with teachers and girls) and the experience was an interesting one! 

Working with the teachers was certainly the most challenging as it uses the methodology in a very different way than usual. Generally the Circles are aimed at developing people's own skills with participants reflecting on themselves. However, in the case of the Circles with teachers, we are actually helping them to reflect on how they can support others. This gives the sessions a different perspective. The most challenging part for us in the UK was to show the teachers how the sessions could benefit them and we did this by demonstrating how they could use the mentoring tools from the Circle pack to help students themselves (boys as well as girls). We also made sure that they had an opportunity to share with each other the experiences they had of working with girls in the classroom where they are very much in the minority. The teachers were able to share issues they had come across and how they were dealt with and also shared and received support on current challenges they were facing.

The feedback suggests that having this time to share ideas/thoughts around the issue of gender and STEM with colleagues was useful and beneficial to the teachers. Quotes we received included:

"I think the programme should be actioned in schools so that female students enrol on these courses and then teachers need training on how to support the students." 

"Gaining a bank of tools that could be used with students [was the most worthwhile aspect]".

The Circles with the girls was more straightforward and followed the traditional methodology initially developed by Inova. We had a group of 7 girls (in total although not all attended every session) and they were very engaged in the sessions. The focus was very much on helping them to think about the future and what they would like to do after college, including visualisation, mind-mapping etc to help them explore their ambitions and wishes for the future. We discovered we had a very ambitious group of young women, who are aiming to run their own business or charities and even become pilots! One participant in particular really stood out for me... She was incredibly shy when she entered the room for the first session and found it difficult to open up in front of the group. However, over the course of just the 3 sessions we had she became more relaxed and confident. With the help of her peers in the Circle, she had worked (in between sessions) on speaking with people she didn't already know by offering to help other students with their work. In the third session she told us that she was feeling more confident and was very proud that she had been able to achieve this. As a facilitator I found this very fulfilling, as there seemed to be a real difference in how she was presented herself.

Working with the girls in small groups worked well; although the group was small we did split them into two for the sharing sessions (where each person was given 15-20 minutes to talk about something they wanted support with). This helped as the girls felt more comfortable in the smaller groups with just 3/4 other people. Having 2 facilitators is of course required to do this though.

Feedback from the girls has also been strong. Some quotes include:

"I have now learnt that I am able to share ideas and build confidence." 
"I have learnt today that I am most aware of my goals than I thought"

Overall, the Circles went well although some recommendations for amends to the materials will be made. Particularly for the girls, it is important to check the terminology being used in the tools to make sure they understand it easily (terms such as 'assertiveness' and 'delegation' were not familiar to them for example.

I look forward to the next pilot in 2016!  

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Re: UK Facilitators Reflections (Career Circles)
by Carolyn Usher - Thursday, 3 March 2016, 5:55 PM
Back again and I wanted to share some more experiences, as we began the second pilot of the Circles with girls this week.

The second Circle seems like it may be more of a challenge as a facilitator as the girls who came this week will need a lot more support and help to work in the group. They are all studying the IT course although at different levels and confidence seems to be a real issue. The girls who attended were much quieter than the first group and may find it difficult to share with each other and open up when we move into this part of the Circles. However, they want to work on these skills and know how important it is for them to develop good communication skills for the future. We used the Wheel of Skills in the first session to help them reflect on the types of skills they will need to develop for their jobs and set goals based on this which they will help each other with in the next sessions.

Since communication skills were something that they want to develop I have invited the girls to look at this section of the learning hub and look at some of the resources. 

I also want to work with them on motivation and visualisation since they don't seem to have a very clear idea of the jobs they would like. For homework they've been asked to watch this video o TED by Tony Robbins -