Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Girl Scouts of the USA joins STEM Mentoring Initiative “Million Women Mentors”

Today Girl Scouts of the 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.

“At Girl Scouts, we will be celebrating National Mentoring Month, and ringing in the New Year, by joining forces with the Million Women Mentors, a group dedicated to supporting girls and young women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and exposing them to professional women already doing incredible things in STEM,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. “STEM careers are the fastest growing in the world, yet less than a quarter of working women choose these fields, despite the high levels of interest younger girls show STEM.  I have long believed that you can’t be what you can’t see, and today, too many girls aren’t getting the exposure to female scientists, doctors and engineers who could serve as role models -- proof that women can enter and excel in STEM.”

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 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 degree but leave those degree paths despite their good academic standing, often citing uncomfortable classroom experiences and disconcerting climate. Even when women earn a STEM degree, 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 a dollar versus 75 cents in other fields.

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, though a majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM, they don’t prioritize STEM fields when thinking about their future careers. The study shows that 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects and the general field of study. Further, a high 82 percent of girls see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.” And yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM are interested in pursuing STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice.

“One of the biggest benefits of Girl Scouts is the opportunity to be exposed to and mentored by women leaders,” said Chávez. “We need more girls to be exposed to more female mentors from all walks of life, volunteers who can truly relate to the interests of girls, and understand the challenges they face, and reach their fullest potential.”

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