It’s always been important for me to lift others up, and most recently, I’ve focused my efforts on expanding opportunities for women and girls in STEM.
There’s no better day to delve into STEM’s importance than today, February 11, which the UN has designated as International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is no longer just a nice thing to have or a popular educational tool, it’s an economic imperative in this country.
In fact, STEM careers are expected to grow by 8.9% from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4% growth for non-STEM occupations. This translates to 800,000 new jobs created within STEM by 2024. With STEM careers booming, women have an opportunity to enter this field and create a lasting impact.
One of the largest barriers for girls and women to enter STEM is a lack of information about potential career paths. One of my daughters is phenomenal at math, but how can she use her skills to enter a career in STEM? That’s the kind of question that needs to be explored at a young age. If you excel in an area like math or science, it’s so important to understand where you can use those skills and how that path can lead to a brighter future for you and your family.
The first step is creating awareness and how it’s a powerful vehicle to propel themselves and their families forward. That’s where role models come into play because I truly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see. Role models show us our own potential and how we can attain our goals. When we highlight women scientists, engineers, and other professionals in STEM, we are showing the next generation of girls what they are capable of achieving.
Another important piece is programming. I’m a believer in services that reach students on a foundational level because education is the great equalizer in America and once girls have access to STEM education, they need resources to support them and launch them into valuable careers.
One way that our Pinnacle Group family is helping students turn their STEM skills into a career is through a program with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) called Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). Through this program, Pinnacle Group serves as an industry partner to Thomas Jefferson P-TECH Early College High School program, a predominantly Hispanic high school located near Pinnacle’s headquarters. As an industry partner, we mentor students, provide work site visits, participate in curriculum mapping, and provide internships.
Students in this program graduate in four years with a high school degree and an associate degree in one of three STEM pathways from Brookhaven Community College. Ninety-five percent of the students in the P-TECH program are minorities and the vast majority will be the first in their families to attend college. Through this program, students are changing their lives, not just for themselves but for their families. This initiative will have a tremendous impact on Dallas’ future workforce.
Between role models and hands-on learning, we can help our young women discover and succeed in high-demand careers. These girls have limitless potential and countless opportunities ahead of them. It’s our duty to make sure those options are accessible and to ensure that these future trailblazers have the self-confidence to chase their dreams. One of the reasons I share my story building one of the largest and fastest-growing IT workforce solutions providers in the country, is to inspire others to believe in themselves and follow their own paths to success. You never know what impact you will have on a young girl and her future. That’s why I continue to share my journey.
Beyond sharing my own story, I love to share resources that have been invaluable to me over the years in my mission to inspire, educate, and empower others. My hope is that the ecosystems below will help you build your network and find people who support your dreams. Whether you’re in the DFW area or are halfway around the world, find people and organizations like the ones below that will lift you up and help you flourish.
Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas: The Eureka! Program is a five year program designed to build confidence and skills through a hands-on approach. The initiative takes a “whole girl” approach through physical fitness, personal development, and college readiness.
STEM Center of Excellence: Operated by Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, this facility is a 92-acre laboratory that provides year-round programming in robotics, coding, botany, chemistry, and more.
Society of Women Engineers Dallas: Aims to encourage young women to pursue STEM fields. SWE hosts a variety of outreach programs and resources to engage the community and foster learning.
STEMconnector: Strives to close the gap between a lack of STEM education and increased employment demand in STEM fields through initiatives such as K-8 STEM investments.
These resources and many others have enriched my life and offered invaluable guidance when I needed it most. Remember, you can set out on your journey alone or you can start the journey with resources by your side.