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Collaborative Aims To Plot Pathways for Women of Color in STEM

A consortium of 10 colleges and universities and nine non-profits is aiming to get more women and girls of color involved in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The new National STEM Collaborative will develop tools and online workshops, train hiring managers and others in addressing bias, build a database of programs to support women of color in STEM majors and highlight research to derive best practices.

The work will be led by Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST), based at Arizona State University. The center's executive director, Kimberly Scott, will run the program. Scott founded CompuGirls, a technology program for girls in grades 8-12 to learn about digital media, game development and other technical areas.

According to the collaborative, while African American and Latina girls express more interest in STEM careers than their White peers, fewer enter or persist in STEM majors in school or in the workforce.

"Our mission," the collaborative stated on its Web site, "is not to simply populate the STEM pipeline with more women of color. Rather we seek to provide institutions, students, leaders, corporations and organizations the skills and resources to change the pipeline to be more equitable for more underrepresented women."

Over the course of the next three to five years, the organization expects to disseminate partner research and best practices in advocating for girls and women of color in STEM, increase the number of opportunities for that population to enter and thrive in post-secondary programs and find ways to support pipeline programs that encourage students to transition from community colleges into four-year institutions.

Among schools that will be involved are Amherst College, Arizona's Diné College, the University of Alabama and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The program has President Obama's support. The collaboration was announced after a July roundtable on "inclusive" STEM education co-hosted by CGEST and the White House Council on Women and Girls.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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