Expand: Strategy 7: Communicate with Parents and Caregivers

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Parents have a huge impact on their children’s career decisions, especially for African American and Hispanic girls. Using culturally responsive engagement strategies can greatly influence participation. Engaging parents and providing them with the experiences and information they need to inform and support their daughters successfully is critical to your recruiting effort.

Minority parents are typically less likely to be involved in school-based activities for many factors that have nothing to do with interest. By providing various and regular opportunities for parents to volunteer or participate in your activities and by considering support resources, such as child care or transportation needs, you can increase parent attendance and engagement. Remember that parent engagement doesn’t always have to be at events or face to face.

Finding multiple channels to inform parents can increase your chances of success. Emailing, calling, mailing information and posting information via social media channels will expand the opportunities for parents to find information and engage. Try to design two way channels. Have a contest for parents to post photos of their kids doing STEM activities or take photos during a recruitment activity and ask parents to vote on the best photo.

When possible, recruit minority and female role models to help you connect to families. Minority communities are much more likely to become involved when a connector matches or is also of a minority ethnicity (e.g., Hispanic Principal with African American community, or Somali representative with Somali community). You can create parent buddies that commit to helping each other stay informed. If one cannot make it to an event, the other will retrieve information and address questions for her.

Being intentional about providing culturally responsive engagement strategies can ensure you are engaging a network of people who have a powerful influence on how girls view themselves in regard to STEM skills and view the potential of advanced manufacturing pathways.