Encouraging young girls and women to pursue education and careers in the STEM disciplines is the goal of a new national movement in which Arkansas State University is taking a lead role.
Million Women Mentors (MWM) is being promoted in Arkansas by Walmart, STEMconnector® and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who will be keynote speaker for the campus launch of the program Tuesday, Nov. 15. MWM wants to engage a million mentors by the year 2019.
STEM is the commonly accepted acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM-related jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs over the past decade. At the same time, only about a fourth of female workers are in STEM professions, although women comprise half the workforce.
"We expect to not only enroll many of the participants (at least 100), but we expect them to return to their STEM workplaces and recruit at least 10 of their colleagues," stated Dr. Cynthia Miller, director of the STEM Education Center at A-State. "This will result in 1,000 or more northeast Arkansas girls being guided, encouraged and supported by local STEM mentors to enroll in advanced high school and college STEM courses and to pursue STEM careers in college. Thus, the critical need for high-paying STEM workers in Arkansas will be addressed with local students."
MWM's goals are to boost percentages in three ways: girls planning to pursue STEM careers, young women pursuing college and university degrees in STEM fields, and women who stay and advance in STEM careers through workforce mentoring programs.
Students from at least four area public schools along with A-State students will attend the Tuesday public launch event, which is scheduled for 10-11:30 at the Convocation Center, 217 Olympic Dr.
Others involved with organizing the launch include Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition, Suzanne Hightower, senior manager of STEM strategy for Walmart, Dr. Mary Jane Bradley, dean of Education and Behavioral Science at A-State, and Jill Clogston, director of the Education Renewal Zone.
Other speakers include Chancellor Doug Whitlock, Provost Lynita Cooksey, ASU System vice president Shane Broadway, Associate Dean Anne Grippo, Stacy Gunderman of Future Fuels, and pre-medical student Diana Smith.
Additional details about the program and launch event Tuesday are available through the Education Renewal Zone by contacting Clogston, jclogston@AState.edu or (870) 972-2049.