Women Leading Tech and Innovation
Women occupy approximately 28% of the STEM workforce and, on average, make 83 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. At first glance, these numbers are disappointing, but they are consistently improving as more young women study STEM in college and pursue careers where their expertise is rewarded with competitive pay. And Dallas is leading the way. This progress is due, in large part, to forward-thinking companies that have made it a priority to attract and promote women in technology.
Companies that want to provide more opportunities for women in STEM and recruit the best in the industry understand that fostering a passion for STEM starts early—elementary-age to be exact. Whether through their own programs or by joining outside opportunities, they are reaching out to young women and girls in the community and offering their expertise to either pique their interest in STEM or to help them make their way through the ranks.
One local opportunity where girls can pursue STEM-related interests is Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas’ STEM Center of Excellence, a 92-acre, $15 million hub of inspiration. A sprawling living laboratory in South Dallas, it is the first of its kind in the United States and provides year-round opportunities in robotics, computer coding, botany, chemistry, and more. Through the STEM Center of Excellence, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas is feeding the STEM workforce pipeline to meet the urgent need for female voices, engagement, and leadership in the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy.
Jennifer Makins was a classroom teacher for 20 years before becoming executive director for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence. She says she saw first-hand what can happen if girls don’t have an advocate in their corner encouraging them in math and science. They risk falling behind, or not trying at all. “We are continuing our strategic work to solve the impending workforce gap,” Makins says. “We provide access to hands-on, real-world learning opportunities that engage and excite them. These girls will go back into their classrooms and choose STEM opportunities in school and beyond. Our goal is to give them the confidence to raise their hands and solve the math problem. More than 50% of girls don’t consider a career in STEM, and we need to better understand why. We can help girls understand that, while STEM is a challenging field, they are the key to solving the world’s problems.”