Research shows that future jobs in the area of STEM will grow faster than jobs in other areas, yet women make up just 23% of the current STEM workforce. But girls in seven school districts will receive the encouragement they need to pursue a future STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career thanks to a grant focused on changing perceptions and providing educators with strategies to support their students’ learning. The nPower Girls program reaches girls in grades 4-8 in Castle Rock, Longview, Mill A, Mount Pleasant, Naselle-Grays River Valley, Ridgefield, and Wishram school districts, plus Three Rivers Christian School in Longview.

Through the grant, 14 teachers and eight administrators will receive professional development over the next three years. ESD 112 Science Coordinator Vickei Hrdina estimates that hundreds of girls will be impacted. Hrdina, a former archaeologist and teacher developed the program. “When I was working as an archaeologist, I realized how few others there were like me, a woman doing a science-related job,” she said. “It was a moving experience for me as a teacher and a mother to examine how to support girls so that they could pursue STEM in their lives.”

The grant funding provides teachers with opportunities to meet women in STEM careers and requires them to create programs in their schools that support girls in STEM subjects. Their students will have opportunities to connect with these female mentors.

“nPower Girls aims to change society’s way of thinking and provide girls with real-life examples of young women in the field to make their dreams of working in STEM more relatable,” she added.

In this exciting program ESD 112 math and science specialists are partnering with Clark College, Washington State University, U.S. Army Corps, Mt. St. Helens Institute, Oregon Tradeswomen, and the Southwest Washington STEM Network. Women working in STEM fields volunteer their time to show young girls that succeeding in a STEM career is possible.