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The USA is facing a dramatic disparity between the number of science and technology professionals it....

Attracting girls, young women and minorities to science and technology careers in the USA

The USA is facing a dramatic disparity between the number of science and technology professionals it needs, and the number coming into the workforce: the Department of Commerce estimates that there will be more than 1.2 million vacancies by 2018.

At the same time, there is a serious gender imbalance in the students choosing careers related to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects: only 24% of US engineers are women, and only 18% of those working in advanced manufacturing. Minorities are similarly under-represented, at only 12% of engineers and 15% in advanced manufacturing.

Our Girls and Minorities in STEM initiative, launched in 2014, addresses these gaps for key populations through funding a number of not-for-profit organisations working in this area. The programme began by identifying five organisations in Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana that are engaging girls and minorities in STEM subjects – each one serving a specific population and age group. In 2015, we selected another two partners to work with.

Key to this programme is its long-term vision: we need to support people from school through to university and beyond. Our investment totals $635,000 to date, including funding committed for 2016. Partners include the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Project SYNCERE, the Society of Women Engineers, Step Up, Embarc, Chicago Architecture Foundation and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. These organisations supported more than 2,000 young people in the 2014-2015 school year through their programmes.

Nancy L. Wright, chief executive officer of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s Girl Scouts troop, says that the partnership with ArcelorMittal “allows us to provide robust, immersive experiences in science, technology, engineering and math for girls who may not otherwise have these opportunities. We spark an interest in the girls, who will no doubt become the game-changing workforce we need. We are grateful to ArcelorMittal for supporting our efforts to foster the brilliance of our girls, celebrate their potential, and invest in a better future for all of us.”

We spark an interest in the girls who will no doubt become the game-changing workforce we need.

Nancy L. Wright Chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

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