Experts: Collaborate to Create Next Generation of Women in STEM

Talmesha Richards remembered being in third grade and thinking math was “the worst thing in the whole wide world.” She then went on to receive bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in cellular molecular medicine.”I hated math but then I had a teacher who took an interest in me,” says Richards, the chief academic and diversity officer at Million Women Mentors, a nonprofit that helps girls get interested in the science, math, engineering and technology fields. “Every STEM person that I know has had that aha moment where the light bulb goes off and you think to yourself, ‘I can do this; this is really cool.'”In the United States, despite comprising 47 percent of the workforce, women hold fewer than 25 percent of jobs in STEM fields, according to statistics from Million Women Mentors. SEE PHOTOSHonoring Mentors for Women in STEM”How do we create the next generation of women in STEM?” asked Maggie Johnson, director of education and university relations for Google, at the Women in Finance and Technology Symposium at the Department of the Treasury in Washington on Thursday. “You have to start in elementary school, or maybe even earlier. There’s a gender differentiation that happens in middle school, but if you plant the seed early on some really good things can happen.”Women haven’t seen much improvement in STEM in the last decade. According to the U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index, high school student interest in STEM fields hit a low in 2004, dropping nearly 19 percent from the base-year calculations. Interest climbed until 2009, followed by a decline. And despite a focus on encouraging students to study science, interest levels waned between 2009 and 2013.Between 2001 and 2014, women as a percentage of the engineering workforce dropped from 25 percent to 24 percent and women in the computing workforce remained at 36 percent during that time, according to statistics from Change the Equation.”There’s a lot of progress to be made,” Richards says. “No one entity can really move the needle on STEM; it has to be done as a collaborative effort.”

Source: Experts: Collaborate to Create Next Generation of Women in STEM – US News

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