Today, the College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) at Arizona State University 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.
As a partner in the movement to increase the representation of women in STEM degree programs and careers, CTI has joined with MWM to help proliferate the opportunities for young girls to engage with STEM mentors. The partnership with MWM aligns with CTI’s recently developed Women’s Council for Science and Engineering that brings together partners from the community, college and industry to support academic initiatives and scholarships for women students pursuing STEM degrees at CTI.
“The underrepresentation of girls and women in STEM is of national concern,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean of CTI. “It isn’t enough any more to just raise awareness, we need to start implementing change that will move the needle. As a partner in the Million Women Mentors program we are part of a national movement that can inspire more young girls to pursue STEM degrees and careers, as well as mentor and sponsor them along the way.”
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.
Even more concerning is the underrepresentation of women in engineering, specifically. In 2013, women made up only 19% of the national engineering class, a mere one percentage point increase from 2009. This, along with the need to increase representation in other science, technology and math fields is what drives special academic initiatives like the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) club at CTI.
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 during National Mentoring Month, CTI will actively engage girls, mentoring and STEM. CTI will host a Badge Blast & Imagine Engineering Day for the Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus—Pine Council, Inc., from 9am-3pm on January 25. The fun-filled day of hands-on badge activities and engineering-focused projects will engage girls in grades two through 12 with the opportunities found in STEM degrees and careers.