By Susan Soroko
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce, but only 27% of STEM workers. Despite making gains, up from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019, science, technology, engineering and math fields are still dominated by men.
One Arlington organization is working to change that. Since 2015, Rosie Riveters has been on a mission to raise the rate of women working in STEM fields while boosting innovation through diversity training in the future workforce. Teaching technical skills and complex science may seem best suited to mature, higher education students, but for Rosie Riveter Director and Founder Brittany Greer, pre-school is the perfect place to start teaching girls.
What makes Rosie Riveters a compelling case for long term success is the organization’s devotion to instilling confidence at the core of learning. During pre-pandemic times, the organization forged partnerships with public schools, affordable housing organizations and community services to teach new skills in after school programs, summer camp and school breaks. In classes that stressed fun and curiosity, the programs worked to reach a wide range of girls that might not otherwise have these opportunities. But when schools closed and classrooms were not available to deliver the courses, Greer called on corporate sponsors like Amazon and community partners like Arlington Housing Corporation (AHC) to help produce and bring kits to students where they lived. Augmented with online and live instruction, no one was left out.
So, why Rosie Riveters? In the recent Return on Creativity podcast interview with Brittany Greer, host Greg Kihlstrom heard a glimpse of the future. “It comes back to that innovation point where science, technology, engineering and math are going to be part of every career you walk into; whether you’re a curator in a museum and you’re creating a digital opportunity for someone at home or producing a digital archive. If you’re a nurse or a doctor, what technology are you engaging with? STEM skills are providing opportunities for innovation. The more diversity in the workforce, the more innovation works for more people. I’m excited for what that looks like.” – Brittany Greer
Listen to the podcast here: