click image to zoom The National 4-H Council recently announced its partnership with the Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative. The initiative, unveiled at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., will support the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors—male and female—to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers.
National 4-H Council joined more than 40 other youth-serving organizations in the MWM initiative. The partnership announcement comes just as a recent longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University, The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, revealed that 4-H girls are two times more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.
“As the largest youth development organization in the United States, 4-H develops high-quality, positive youth development programs that show mentoring works,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council President & CEO. “4-H prepares program leaders and youth as mentors with a deliberate focus on pairing strong women mentors with girls to help guide their future career paths. We are thrilled to join forces with STEMconnector and the Million Women Mentors initiative as our combined efforts will help reach the goal of engaging more than one million girls in STEM.”
In the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. Today, 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and knowledge and skills in hard sciences. While women comprise 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, just 24 percent are in STEM fields, a statistic that has held constant for nearly the last decade. While 75 percent of all college students are women and students of color, they represent only 45 percent of STEM degrees earned each year. Too many of these young women begin in STEM degrees but leave those degree paths despite their good academic standing, often citing uncomfortable classroom experiences and a disconcerting climate. Even when women earn a STEM degree, they are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM field even though STEM jobs pay more and have a lower wage gap: 92 cents on a dollar versus 75 cents in other fields.