Three programs in northern Virginia dedicated to advancing girls’ knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) have won $40,000 in grants from the Business Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC).
This brings to $80,000 the STEM-related grants that the BWGC has made in the two years since it started. Its objective is to support organizations and programs that provide opportunities for girls and young women to lead, innovate and hone business skills. BWGC also provides an opportunity for women in different industries to network and forge new friendships.
The three beneficiaries of the organizations 2015-2016 grants include:
- Girls Inspired and Ready to Lead (GIRL). The $10,000 grant for this program will help equip middle school girls with leadership skills while also exposing them to experiential learning in STEM and entrepreneurship. The aim is to equip them with essential skills for the 21st Century workplace, such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
- Marymount University. Empowering Leaders in STEAM “Enlist II.” With the $10,000 grant this group received, third through sixth grade girls will be able to participate in a 12-week STEM/STEAM after-school program. Fifteen MU pre-service teachers, supervised by mentor teachers, will oversee the program.
- SHINE for Girls. This program received $20,000 in funding for an innovative program utilizing kinesthetic learning. By combining formal dance training with rigorous math instruction, SHINE achieves the dual objectives of improving girls’ match scores and motivating their interest in STEM. It’s geared toward middle school-aged girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Programs encouraging girls in the STEM disciplines are increasingly important to close the gender gap in these fields, help women achieve wage parity and meet the pressing demand for qualified STEM professionals.
The National Council for Women and Information Technology, for example, projects about 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the U.S. by 2020. For women to land their share of them, education needs to start now with middle school programs. Doing so will help them defy stereotypes and earn a greater proportion of in-demand STEM degrees.