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The Maine Girls Collaborative Project will create a statewide network of girl-serving organizations that encourages participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By identifying and coordinating programs participating in this work, and providing a mechanism for active collaboration, we will be better able to bring accurate, up-to-date information to Maine educators about the challenges and opportunities for women in the STEM fields based on best practices and research. This process will increase opportunities for girls in Maine and connect Maine’s STEM initiatives for girls with programs throughout the country.

The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) at the University of Maine provides leadership to the University of Maine and the State of Maine in issues that have an impact on the lives of women and girls and their equitable participation in society. A program in the Division of Lifelong Learning at UM, WRC provides advocacy, resources, programming, and networking opportunities in a safe, supportive place that helps women and girls realize their full personal and professional potential. The work of the WRC focuses on economic and educational equity, cross generational work with girls, reproductive rights, and violence prevention.

WRC is engaged in a number of initiatives that encourage and support women and girls’ participation in the STEM fields. One example is the annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference for middle school girls, which has been offered at UM for more than two decades. The conference includes a gender equity workshop for the girls and for the adult chaperones. Great attention is paid to ensuring that networking activities and opportunities are provided for the adult workshop presenters who include STEM faculty and graduate students at the University of Maine, as well as professional women in STEM fields from all over the state. This conference attracts an average of 500 middle school girls who attend from throughout Maine. College students who serve as guides and workshop facilitators are trained in information about gender equity in education.

There are many notable STEM initiatives in Maine that will support the Maine Girls Collaborative Project. Maine was the first state in the country to provide laptop computers to all seventh graders. Several Leadership Team members direct innovative STEM programs. The Platform Shoes Forum created Zoey's Room, one of the nation’s first character-based online communities that connects isolated rural girls interested in STEM to each other and to professional women in STEM careers. Coastal Studies for Girls, a partner in this project, is a new, 16-week residential school on the coast of Maine that offers Fall and Spring semester sessions for girls who are high school sophomores. The school is the only residential science school in the country that offers a single-gender setting. Students interact with resident scholars and guest lecturers in a Maine coastal setting. The school features a rigorous, marine science-based curriculum that focuses on leadership and environmental science.

Lead Contact

  • Sharon Barker
    Director, Women's Resource Center
    University of Maine
    5728 Fernald Hall, Suite 102
    Orono, ME 04469
    ph 207-581-1501

Leadership Team

  • Sharon Barker
    Director, Women’s Resource Center
    University of Maine Orono
  • Peaches Bass
    Labor Program Specialist
    Maine Department of Labor
    Office of the Commissioner
  • Leslie Blanchette
    Graduate Student
    Counselor Education
    University of Maine Orono
  • Pam Erickson
    Executive Director
    Coastal Studies for Girls
    A Science & Leadership School
  • Ellen Holmes, NBCT
    Distinguished Educator
    Maine Department of Education
  • Karen Keim
    Associate Director
    Maine Educational Opportunity Center
    Educational Talent Search Program
    University of Maine
    President of the Girl Scouts of Maine
  • Mary Madden
    Associate Research Professor
    College of Education and Human Development
    University of Maine Orono
  • Vinitha Nair
    Executive Director
    Platform Shoes Forum
    On-line Education for Youth
  • Tara Treichel
    Director Of Education
    Coastal Studies for Girls
  • Susie Valaitis
    Vice President
    Institute for Broadening Participation
  • Brian Welsh
    School Counselor
    SeDoMoCha Middle School
  • Anja Whittington (AAUW Liaison)
    Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
    University of Maine at Presque Isle
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