Oncofertility pp 321-344 | Cite as

The Oncofertility Saturday Academy: A Paradigm to Expand the Educational Opportunities and Ambitions of High School Girls

  • Megan Faurot
  • Teresa K. Woodruff
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 156)


Women of all races and ethnicities remain underrepresented in science. Attrition of women along the educational and career trajectory or science pipeline occurs at every transition period at a higher rate than men. The science pipeline has been identified to begin during the transition period between high school and college because it is at this stage when a student makes key decisions that will lead to an academic degree and career in science. To strategically combat the attrition between high school and college, the Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA) program was developed between a high school (Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago) and a university (Northwestern University). OSA is composed of basic science and clinical experiences designed to make the high school curriculum more relevant and to empower more high school girls to become the next generation of women to achieve excellence and leadership in science. Using a sequence of challenging, thematic modules offered to high school juniors, seniors, and college students, OSA offers young women the opportunity to explore basic science research, clinical applications, and career options of multiple science disciplines. To make the learning experiences relevant and applicable to the girls’ lives, there is a focused concentration on women’s health throughout the entire program. To support the girls through this sequence of experiences, members from both the high school and university communities are actively involved in a synergistic science mentor and support network to foster more girls who are interested in science during the transition period between high school and college. The members of this network provide a wide range of support including role modeling, mentoring, and advising. The program has successfully transitioned high school girls uncertain of their future goals to college students with science-related majors and has the potential to be replicated at other high schools nationwide. Providing parent education, cultivating parent–student communication, and building tools to support their daughters’ successes is also a critical part of the program. The expectation is that OSA will contribute to an increased pipeline of young women entering into and being retained in scientific disciplines.


Fertility Preservation High School Girl Female Medical Student Profile Page High School Science Teacher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Northwestern University and Young Women’s Leadership Charter School for their dedication to academic excellence and believing that every student has the potential to succeed.

Within the Northwestern community we would like to thank the Feinberg School of Medicine, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, McCormick School of Engineering, School of Education and Social Policy, The Institute for Women’s Health Research, and Center for Reproductive Sciences.

Within the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School community we would like to thank Co-Founding Director, Margaret Small, Ph.D., the current Co-Directors, Michelle Russell and Chandra Sledge, the Science Team, and the Board of Directors.

We would like to thank the over 100 OSA faculty members who each play a significant role in the successful delivery of the program every year.

We especially would like to thank the 47 OSA sisters, parents, and family members for their commitment to the program and for trailblazing the path for the future OSA participants to follow and build upon.

This research was supported by the Oncofertility Consortium NIH 8UL1DE019587, 5RL1HD058296.

We would like to thank photographer Roark Johnson for documenting OSA and contributing the photographs for this book chapter.


  1. 1.
    Woolf SH. The meaning of translational research and why it matters. JAMA. 2008; 299(2):211–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Beyond bias and barrier: fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering. Washington: The National Academies Press; 2007.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    National Science Foundation. Science and Engineering Indicator 2008. Updated January 2008. Accessed on April 20, 2009.
  4. 4.
    Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development. Land of plenty, diversity as America’s competitive edge in science, engineering and technology. Washington: Congressional Commission; 2000.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Battelle in Cooperation with Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Biotechnology Institute. Taking the pulse of bioscience education in America: a state-by-state analysis report. Columbus: Battelle Memorial Institute; 2009.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Narum J. What works: building natural science communities. A plan for strengthening undergraduate science and mathematics, Vol. 1. Washington: National Science Foundation; 1991.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Seymour E, Hewitt N. Talking about leaving: why undergraduates leave the sciences. Boulder: Westview Press; 1997.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Civian J, Rayman P, Brett B. Pathways for women in sciences: the Wellesley report, part II. Wellesley: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women; 1997.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Seymour E. The role of socialization in shaping the career-related choices of undergraduate women in science, mathematics, and engineering majors. In: Selby CC, Ed. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Women in science and engineering: choices for success, Vol. 869. New York: New York Academy of Sciences; 1999:118–26.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Horn L, Kojaku L. High school academic curriculum and the persistence path through college: persistence and transfer behavior of undergraduates 3 years after entering 4-year institutions (NCES 2001-163). Washington: US Department of Education; 2001.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Adelman C. Answers in the toolbox: academic intensity, attendance patterns and bachelor’s degree attainment (PLLI 1999-8021). Washington: US Department of Education; 1999.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Orfield G. Dropouts in America: confronting the graduation rate crisis. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press; 2005.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Committee on the Guide to Recruiting and Advancing Women Scientists and Engineers in Academia, Committee on Women in Science and Engineering. To recruit and advance women students and faculty in science and engineering. Washington: The National Academies Press; 2006.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    COSEPUP (Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy). Adviser, teacher, role model, friend: on being a mentor to students in science and engineering. Washington: National Academy Press; 1997.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ream R, Palardy G. Reexamining social class differences in the availability and the educational utility of parental social capital. Am Educ Res J. 2008; 45(2):238–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    US Census Bureau. School Enrollment-Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2007. Updated March 4, 2009. Accessed on August 20, 2009.
  17. 17.
    Zirkel S. Is there a place for me? Role models and academic identity among White students and students of color. Teach Coll Rec. 2002; 104(2):357–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hoover-Dempsy K, Sandler H. Why do parents become involved in their children’s education? Rev Educ Res. 1997; 67(1):3–42.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Women’s Health Research, Northwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations