Allegheny Women's Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative: Investing in Disadvantaged Populations with Technology

Allegheny Women's Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative: Investing in Disadvantaged Populations with Technology

Michelle Zuckerman-Parker (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, USA), Christine Compliment (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, USA), Megan Rodella (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, USA), Garth Ehrlich (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, USA) and J. Christopher Post (Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-852-9.ch011
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Abstract

The Allegheny Women’s Biotechnology Workforce Collaborative (AWBWC) is a research based educational intervention designed to support participants with “lifelines” using blended learning as they further their education and enter the biotechnology workforce. This holistic educational approach provides didactic instruction with a focus on individualized learning using technology to foster personal skill development and mentoring from industry professionals. The AWBWC participants live at 60% below the poverty level and 90% have been victimized. This comparative study is based on a new model and its impact upon achievement. The quantitative data includes participant grade point average (GPA), technology usage, and rate of attrition. The qualitative data includes emails, text messages, focus group and face-to-face interviews. Additionally, anecdotal evidence indicates the children of participants have increased selfesteem, perform better in school as measured by GPA, and desire to pursue higher education.
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Introduction

Once an industrial giant, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has undergone a transformation from steel city to a biomedical research hub, a region in need of a qualified science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and healthcare workforce. In an area where blue-collar jobs were once plentiful, there are now economically depressed communities with many families, most headed by women, who seek an opportunity to regain their economic independence. Many of these women were displaced early from academics or the workplace for a variety of circumstances, such as teen-age pregnancy, economic or domestic difficulties or the learned hopelessness that comes from living in a depressed community located on the north shore of the city. The Northside is composed of a diverse group of 14 identifiable neighborhoods. Their demographics represent the greater Pittsburgh community at large, half are African American and half are Caucasian, (see Table 1). Participants of the

Table 1.
Neighborhood demographics
    Northside    Pittsburgh    Pennsylvania
    Population of area    48,0001    297,0614    9,987,9264
    Poverty rate    22.3%2    22.2%4    12.1%4
    Unemployment rate    5.1%1    7.4%4    6.2%4
    Drop-out rate    37%3    29%3    1.9%5
    Percent of ages 25+ w/o high school diploma    24%1    18.1%4    13.8%4

1- (Northside United, 2008)

2- (Pittsburgh United, 2007)

3- (RAND Education, 2006) Northside data from Oliver High School

4 – (American Community Survey, 2006)

5- (Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2007)

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