by Laurie Goodman

Did you know? A report by America’s Edge revealed that by 2018, 9 out of 10 STEM jobs will require postsecondary degrees and 7 out of 10 will require bachelor’s degrees. Employers may have difficulty filling these jobs. Six years ago, California ranked 14th in the nation in degrees awarded in science and engineering. Today, California has fallen to 45th.

Nationally, in California, and in the Orange County community, women continue to be vastly underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. These are the fasting growing fields and provide higher wages and more stability than many other careers. In addition, STEM fields allow girls to use their strong ability to work in teams and problem solve. Women in these fields have the opportunity to be a part of technology and research that will shape the future of our country and our world. Girls Inc. believes that all girls, including girls of color and from families earning lower incomes should have equal opportunities in STEM. To address this challenge of lack of STEM workers and lack of women in STEM fields, as a society we have to change how girls, families, and society imagine what girls can be and what they can do. How do we do that?

Walt Disney valued the concept of “Imagineers”, the result of combining science, technology, and curiosity. He was quoted as saying “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” Disney, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Apple, IBM, Google and Microsoft are just a few American brands built by young “imagineers”. Girls Inc. wants to give girls and especially underserved girls the opportunity to change our world by becoming some of the “imagineers” of their generation.

A Girls Inc. graduate and national scholar, Vanessa, just began her second year at Washington State University. She is the only Latino women in her computer engineering program. In her upcoming sophomore year Vanessa has been asked to start a club for minorities in STEM. She will also be assisting a professor with research on prosthetic limbs. Vanessa said she never would have considered a career in STEM until she attended STEM programs at Girls Inc.

Because the Boeing Foundation and its employees believe in supporting innovative partnerships and advocate for improving access to competitive learning and workforce skills development, an exciting partnership was born.

In October, Boeing presented Girls Inc. with a $100,000 grant for STEM programming! This funding will allow hundreds of girls like Vanessa to explore the option of studying in a STEM field and pursuing a STEM career. Girls Inc. starts as early as age five getting girls excited about STEM possibilities. With programs like robotics, aviation, coding, and others, girls are using their skills today to help solve tomorrow’s challenges.

STEM for Girls and The Boeing Foundation
From Left to Right: Tammy Latvala, Maria Passaseo, Lucy Santana-Ornelas, Kristin Biale-Gonda, Vanessa Smith, and Tiffany Pitts