Closing the STEM Gender Gap: One Classroom at a Time

Closing the Gender Gap

On today's episode of the TeacherCast Podcast, we take a look at the topic of the Gender Gap in STEM Education. For more information on this topic, please visit I would like to thank Microsoft Philanthropies and Microsoft Education for helping to set this episode up.

What if she could be the one to find the cure, crack the code, or invent something that has the potential to save lives? When we encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we double the potential to solve problems. If she stays in STEM, she could be the one to change the world.

Recent research shows that, on average, only 25% of tech jobs are held by women. If we really want to close the STEM gender gap, we must start early. In this conversation, join current and veteran classroom educators, who share concrete tips and best practices for encouraging girls’ interest in STEM subjects and helping them to persevere once they start down that path.

About our Guests

Tracy Immel Kennedy 

Tracy Immel Kennedy brings passion, innovation, and education experience to her role as Director of Marketing for YouthSpark, a Microsoft Philanthropies initiative focused on providing access to computer science education for youth most at risk of being left behind. Combining over 20 years of marketing experience with her passion for teaching and building human capacity, Tracy has a unique background that bridges both the public and private sector.

As a consultant, she has worked with governments, schools, NGOs, and companies to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning. She has personally delivered professional development to over 5,000 educators, trainers, and education leaders and has been a featured presenter and blogger on the topic of building educator capacity. At Microsoft, Tracy developed professional development opportunities for educators and created a Training Provider program that helped scale reach to hundreds of thousands of educators globally.

Today, Tracy is using her unwavering belief that all people should be valued, respected, and have the opportunity to live meaningful, productive lives to help inspire and engage young people in the opportunities that computer science education can enable.

Denise Cathryn Spence

Denise Spence has been an educator for over 22 years. She has earned her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, emphasis in Instructional Technology. Over the years, Denise has earned the following IT certification credentials: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, Adobe Certified Associate in Dreamweaver and Microsoft Office Specialist in Word/PowerPoint/Excel/Outlook. Her accomplishments include being selected as 1 of 3 finalists for Lee County's Teacher of the Year in 2000; she was the 1st ever Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year for Lee County in 2006; she was named Certiport's Global Summit's Teacher of the Year for 2010. Plus, Denise was a 2011 and a 2012 finalist for the Microsoft Innovation Forum. For her leadership in providing college and career related information technology training, Denise was asked to be a Faculty Champion for the Microsoft Imagine Cup and was selected to be an Adobe Education Leader. For her impact on the business community, Denise was selected as a finalist for the Fort Myers Greater Chamber of Commerce – Women in Business – Apex Award in 2011. Recently, she was nominated in the Education category, for The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Business & Tourism Chrysalis Awards 2015 & 2016 and Denise was selected as the winner of the Inaugural Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership Women in Technology Award for 2015.

Presently, Denise is the lead technology teacher at Dunbar High School, where she serves as the business technology department head and is the program's manager for award winning technology programs: the Academy for Technology Excellence (a Microsoft Showcase School), the Academy for Digital Excellence (an Adobe featured school program) and the Academy of Game Design and Programming Excellence. These programs have been featured both locally and internationally for how they prepare students for both college and careers. She has developed a long-term relationship with the business community by maintaining their Business Advisory Committee at Dunbar High School. Plus, Denise has trained and certified students, teachers, and administrators in a variety of Information Technology industry areas. Denise is also, an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, and served as an adjunct professor at Hodges University.

Concurrently, Denise has presented at several state and national conferences, including repeat appearances at the Florida Educational Technology Conference, Magnet Schools of America National Conference, and a presenter for Adobe and Microsoft at various Career and Technical Education conferences around the United States. She has even done several national and international webinars related to career and technical training in high schools. Denise collaborated with The National Career and Technical Education Foundation (NCTEF) and Microsoft Corporation’s U.S. Partners in Learning to help develop the IT Career Cluster guide for the States ”College and Career Readiness Program” series. Denise collaborated with the local YMCA to develop and host “Tech Quest, a technology enrichment summer camp. Plus, she is the founding sponsor for an all-girls computer club called GO-4-IT (Girls Opting for Information Technology), which tackles the diversity issue in the computer science fields.

Tiffany Thompson

Tiffany Thompson is an Instructional Technologist with 15+ years in the education field including experience as a classroom teacher, STEM coordinator, and intervention specialist. After teaching first grade in Maryland, she moved to Tokyo, Japan where she gained a love for technology while completing her Master’s Degree. From there, her hands have consistently been in the “educational technology pot”. She currently consults and trains on instructional technology locally and nationally; designs and facilitates online workshops for Maryland State Department of Education; teaches a graduate level technology course at McDaniel College, and writes technology training content. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Surface Expert and Master Trainer.

In her many roles, Tiffany has led school initiatives as well as research to support interactive/digital and mobile learning, STEM education; written grants for digital technologies in her previous schools; planned and conducted numerous workshops for parents, educators, and students; written and developed content for online courses; and presented at local and national conferences.

Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and an Administration and Supervision certificate from Maryland State Department of Education.

Her enthusiasm for developing 21st-century learners and innovative educators has inspired her to begin development on an app for educators. She is always willing to assist novice and veteran educators in finding new and creative ways to incorporate technology into their teaching. Her philosophy is, “To improve rigor and relevance in the classroom, teachers must become proficient and comfortable in using technology to create innovative and engaging lessons that extend students’ personal limits and potential. Using various instructional technology tools is key in advancing 21st-century skills.

About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!