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Education

Program breaks down gender norms, empowers girls to be the future of STEM industry

The STEMinista Project is active in Southeast Michigan right now, but Matthews told us it's getting a lot of national attention and she could easily see its reach expanding.
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The STEMinista Project is active in Southeast Michigan right now, but Matthews told us it's getting a lot of national attention and she could easily see its reach expanding.

The Next Idea

It’s clear that Michigan’s economic future depends on turning out graduates who are strong in STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and math.

Attracting and keeping girls in STEM fields is the mission of The STEMinista Project, founded by Michigan Science Center chief executive officer and president, Dr. Tonya Matthews.

STEMinista focuses on young women between fourth and eighth grade.

“It’s really important to engage everyone in those grades, but girls seem to be much more susceptible to this idea that that’s not for them or that they don’t like it at those ages,” Matthews said. “So we see our young ladies losing interest when they’re still outperforming.”

Matthews told us that getting girls involved is crucial to securing the future of the STEM industry in Michigan.

“Everyone brings a different perspective, and if you’re literally not bringing half of the workforce to bear in these problems and these executions and these new technologies, we will be second place at best and never get the job done at worst,” Matthews said.

“It’s for the field. The field needs to diversify to come up with better solutions to more complicated problems. And if Michigan intends to win, we will win by having our entire workforce pointed in that direction in terms of it being an option and being available so that we will have the best team every time we step up to the table.”

 

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio’s project devoted to new innovations and ideas that will change our state.

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