Closing the Gender Gap: Building Pathways for the Next-Generation of Women in STEM – By Guest Blogger Tammy H. Wharton
As President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council, empowering girls and creating future leaders is my passion. I am always impressed when I learn about local businesses that take the initiative to inspire our youth, as well. Triad Architects is one firm that stands out for its dedication to “paying it forward,” with its support of Camp Architecture, the Architecture & Construction Management Program at Eastland Fairfield, and its internship program.
It is important for companies like Triad to continue their focus on empowering women and minorities in architecture. Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but they are drastically underrepresented in many fields like STEM, in-demand jobs, and leadership roles.
Research shows that just 18 percent of STEM leadership roles are held by women. Additionally, less than a third of female students choose to study higher education courses in subjects like math and engineering, and women represent only 15 percent of architects and engineers. This means that the future workforce pipeline will remain lacking in female representation.
The statistics highlight the fact that there is a serious need for more robust STEM programming aimed at helping girls spark their interest and learn about jobs of the future. Gender diversity is vital to having a sustainable, strong STEM workforce and parity for women in all levels of all industries of innovation.
And the need for more female representation in STEM is becoming more urgent. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, STEM professions are expected to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029, compared to just 3.4% for all other occupations. For context, Columbus is ranked number 19 on the list of U.S. markets for all STEM professionals. With Intel’s entrance to the Columbus Region, these job numbers are expected to grow even more.
How Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland are Dreaming Big
For the past four years, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland (GSOH) has been “Dreaming Big” for girls’ futures. Through this project, our 220-acre camp Ken-Jockety in western Franklin County will become a STEM immersive campus with Maker Space for In-Demand Jobs. With access to cutting-edge programs, a safe place to learn new skills, and mentors encouraging them along the way, girls will have hands-on innovative programs designed specifically for them, ultimately providing them the skills and confidence needed to be our leaders of tomorrow.
We publicly launched Dream Big in May 2022. Some highlights of the Dream Big initiative include:
- A new STEM Leadership Center with community space for 300.
- A Maker Space with science and technology labs and spaces to learn trade skills like welding, mechanics and carpentry.
- A new greenhouse for food science programs including hydroponics.
- Renovations to the Environmental Center to include the addition of a teaching kitchen for farm-to-table programming.
- And much more.
Because Girl Scouts are community leaders and know “sharing is caring,” we will make sure others can enjoy the new facilities, too. The campus will be utilized by schools, other non-profits and community partners. The Dream Big immersive campus is designed to be a true community resource for youth and community stakeholders with its proximity to downtown Columbus.
We expect to break ground on the new STEM Leadership Center in Spring of 2023 and the facility is slated to open in the late summer of 2024.
To date, GSOH has raised $11.3 million or 71% of our $16 million goals. Battelle is the lead investor in Dream Big with a transformational gift of $3 million. Other key investors include AEP, Nationwide, and Corna Kokosing. Ohio Legislators also gave their support of the program with $1.5 million from the state capital budget.
To learn more about Dream Big and find out how your organization can get involved, visit https://gsohdreambig.org/.
What Your Business Can Do to Get More Girls in STEM
There are so many unique ways to get involved in this journey and dream big with us. With your help, we can fuel our regional workforce of the future by building a talent pipeline, and ultimately have a greater impact on the future of science and technology, not only for central Ohio, but for the world. As a business leader, you will inspire future women in STEM.
- Serve as Mentor: Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to motivate girls to pursue STEM pathways. The more representation a girl sees in a field she’s interested in, the more likely it is she will pursue a career in that field.
- Support Programs that Deliver STEM Learning Opportunities for Young Girls: Studies show that girls develop their STEM identity by the third grade, and their confidence peaks by the age of nine. By championing STEM programs for young girls, like the GSOH Dream Big program, you will empower them to get hands-on experience and think positively about these fields.
- Create Grants or Scholarships: Scholarships provide an ideal opportunity for STEM-related businesses to offer financial support to students who need help paying for college. As a bonus, they are a way to create brand awareness and encourage engagement from potential future employees.
- Celebrate Women in STEM: Promote outstanding work by outstanding women at your organization or in the community, and find ways to raise them up. Show girls what they can aspire to be.
- Use Your Voice to Call for Equal Representation and Inclusion: Today’s women leaders must continue to voice your concerns about STEM and leadership pipelines– and do your part to support growth initiatives.
- Invest in Dream Big: Be part of something BIG and support the building of this STEM and in-demand jobs immersive campus. Girls will have access to cutting edge programs and a safe place to learn new skills. Help us make this vision a reality.
Working together, we can ensure girls receive encouragement, have safe places to learn new skills, and spark their interest and curiosity in STEM so that they can fully embrace new opportunities and build a better world.
Tammy H. Wharton is President & CEO of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland. Through its Dream Big campaign, GSOH will build fuel the pipeline with women who will be our future Leaders of Tomorrow. This transformational initiative is our local commitment supporting the Girl Scouts of the USA’s bold goal of putting 2.5 million girls in the STEM pipeline by 2025.
Tammy H. Wharton
President & CEO, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland
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