Partnership Seeks to Engage More Than One Million Girls & Young Women in STEM Education and Careers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, YWCA USA announced its partnership with the “Million Women Mentors” (MWM) initiative. MWM will launch Jan. 8, 2014 during National Mentoring Month, in Washington, D.C at the National Press Club. The initiative will support the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors – male and female – to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers.
“The YWCA USA is pleased to collaborate with the Million Women Mentors initiative in order to strengthen STEM programming for girls and young women across the country. For more than 150 years, the YWCA has spoken out and taken action on behalf of women and girls,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO of the YWCA USA. “In 1997, we developed a program called TechGYRLS to address the evident and significant gender gap in girls’ interest and skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”
In the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. Today, 80% of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and knowledge and skills in hard sciences. While women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce, just 24% are working in STEM fields — a statistic that has held constant for nearly the last decade. While 75% of all college students are women and students of color, they represent only 45% of STEM degrees earned each year. Too many of these young women begin in STEM degrees but leave those educational paths, despite their good academic standing; they often cite uncomfortable classroom experiences and a disconcerting climate. Even when women earn STEM degrees, they are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM field, even though STEM jobs pay more and have a lower wage gap: 92 cents on the dollar, versus 75 cents in other fields.
“YWCAs across the country, through TechGYRLS and other STEM programs, provide girls with opportunities for intensive technology exploration while being encouraged and supported. The goal of YWCA STEM programs is to reach out to students who come from high poverty, ethnic and racial minorities, and disabled populations, all of which are significantly underrepresented in the STEM career fields,” said Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO of the YWCA USA. “YWCA programs offer a unique curriculum that also incorporates related racial justice, gender equity, and community action issues. These highly successful and stimulating programs broaden girls’ knowledge and help them develop confidence and new skills in using technology. Furthermore, they help girls envision many appealing career opportunities in technology.”
Million Women Mentors is a collective effort of more than 40 non-profit, media, education and government industry partners and nine corporate sponsors. Through efforts planned on January 22, 2014 during National Mentoring Month, YWCA USA will support the Million Women Mentors Initiative by raising awareness, through an online initiative, about the importance of STEM programs for young women and girls. The YWCA USA’s National Mentoring Month online initiative and accompanying social media will share STEM and TechGYRLS stories and programmatic priorities, and jumpstart discussion around education and girls’ empowerment.