Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are typically thought of as male-dominated fields. According to statistics, 74 percent of STEM workers are men and 26 percent are women. While women fill many vital roles within the United States economy, only 25 percent hold jobs in STEM.
An organization called Million Women Mentors (MWM) has been working to change these statistics by providing mentors and support to women and girls who wish to pursue STEM programs and careers. According to their website, MWM “supports the engagement of millions of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math mentors to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers by 2020.”
The program utilizes both male and female mentors who encourage women and girls to pursue their dreams, as well as help them find and retain careers in the STEM field. Million Women Mentors recently announced their new national chair of Lieutenant Governors, Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin. Griffin has not taken this new role lightly; since obtaining this position, he “has held nearly thirty events promoting mentorships for girls and young women.”
He also added, “That’s what we’ve got to have not only in Arkansas but in the United States if we’re going to compete around the world because the jobs of the future, many many many are STEM field jobs.”
While it might seem odd that a man would take on such an integral role in a program designed to empower young girls and women, Griffin seems to truly understand the importance of the Million Women Mentors movement. Like MWM, Griffin is enthusiastic and hopeful that by 2020, more women will be pursuing STEM careers.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who held the position before Griffin, shared, “Griffin has been an effective advocate for the cause from the very beginning. The Little Rock Republican quickly understood the importance of really engaging girls and young women in the workforce. He’s just been gung-ho from the first conversation, and I’m really appreciative of that.”
Many might be skeptical of Griffin’s intentions, but MWM National States Chairman Sheila Boyington isn’t. She said, “Many elected officials are willing to serve as ‘honorary state chairs’ to lend their names to the cause. But few have worked as hard as Griffin has in Arkansas. The Lieutenant Governor was so involved that they eventually dropped the word ‘honorary’ from his title. No one has worn the hat of Million Women Mentors – even though he’s a guy – better than Tim Griffin.”
Promoting STEM opportunities is a very important thing moving forward, which is something that Griffin understands very well. As Griffin has said, “It’s hard for me to think of almost any job that doesn’t have STEM involves. We need more individuals – male and female – who have STEM training at some level whether it be a PH.D. or whether it be a certification and everything in between.”
He adds, “This is not about forcing anything. It’s about making sure that young people – including young ladies – are exposed to all of their options and that they understand all of the pros that come along with the STEM world.”
Griffin is a true example of how politicians can use their power and prestige for good, things the United States could use much more of in the future.
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