15 Innovative Initiatives Bringing Women Into STEM

Although overall demand is on the rise, the amount of women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM) is not. A 2011 report from the Department of Commerce states only one in seven engineering workers is female, while only 27 percent of computer science jobs are held by women. Additionally, women earn STEM-related degrees like math and engineering at a much lower rate than men, despite the fact that more women graduate from college than their male counterparts.

To try and address the lack of women in the STEM job force, a number of organizations have created initiatives designed to get young female students excited about math and science, improve the education opportunities associated with these subjects and open up job options for women who want to pursue STEM-related careers. The following organizations are currently working toward these goals.

National Girls Collaborative Project

The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) is a group of organizations from around the country that are working together to encourage young girls to enter STEM fields when they begin their careers. To that end, the organization offers a number of publications that address the lack of female workers in STEM-related careers. For example, “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” is a research report that addresses the social and environmental barriers that have precluded women from entering STEM careers, and “Encouraging Girls in Math and Science” is a guide that includes evidence-based best practices on how to spark young girls’ interest in science, technology and math.

Association for Career and Technical Education

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), is the largest association that addresses pedagogical issues in technology education. In order to improve technology education, the association is involved in advocacy work, lobbying policymakers on issues that affect technical education in schools. ACTE also produces resources to help educators meet the needs of technology students.

Association for Women in Science

The Association for Women in Science, or AWIS, is a professional organization for women who work in STEM jobs. In order to help women progress in these fields, the association offers mentoring and coaching services, as well as advice on work-life balance issues. In addition, AWIS has resources to educate women in the field, such as books, workshops, educational videos, and research journals. The organization also participates in advocacy on behalf of female STEM workers to address the key issues that impact their careers.

Change the Equation

Change the Equation (CTE) works to increase STEM literacy so that young students become more interested in math and science and receive quality education in these subjects. CTE offers online resources for educators, discussion forums where STEM issues are debated and advocacy work that raises the awareness of policymakers.

National Math and Science Initiative

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is working to address the shortfall of candidates who are qualified to work in STEM-related jobs. To that end, NMSI aims to improve student performance in science, engineering, math and technology courses by helping to shape the way these classes are being taught and improving the quality of the educators teaching them.

National Center for Women & Information Technology

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a nonprofit organization working to increase the amount of women in computing and technology fields. The organization — which includes government organizations, universities and companies — is dedicated to increasing female students’ interest in technology as well as positively altering the way companies recruit and retain female employees. Programs this organization manages include the Aspirations in Computing Talent Development Initiative, designed to increase women’s participation in technology careers through scholarships and internships. The Counselors for Computing (C4C) program gives guidance counselors information about computing careers that they can use to encourage female students to enter these fields.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) aims to support math teachers by helping them teach to a high standard for all students. The organization’s vision is to create a world where everyone sees the value in mathematics, is enthusiastic about math subjects and stands to reap the benefits that come with high proficiency in math.

Million Women Mentors

Million Women Mentors is a campaign that brings together government agencies, nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions to mentor young girls interested in pursuing STEM careers. The campaign was created by STEMconnector, a resource that disseminates information on STEM fields.

American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women (AAUW), which was founded in 1881, works to empower women by addressing the educational, economic, social and political issues that affect them. To address these concerns as they relate to women in STEM careers, the AAUW has conducted research that explores why young girls have not traditionally been encouraged to study math, science and technology, and what can be done to open more doors for women in those fields. The AAUW also created a science and math summer camp and a STEM conference for female middle school students.

Society of Women Engineers

The Society of Women Engineers aims to inspire female schoolchildren to pursue engineering careers, as well as support women who enter the field. To help female engineering college students, the organization offers scholarships for women enrolled in accredited Bachelor’s or graduate-level engineering degree programs. The Society also organizes outreach events to encourage female elementary school students to consider an engineering career.

Mathematical Association of America

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) works to ensure mathematics is accessible to all students. The organization — which has a wide variety of members including college students, high school and college-level educators, government agencies, mathematicians, scientists and computer scientists — has an interest in affecting math education, research, public policy and public appreciation. MAA is also involved in advocacy work designed to increase female student enrollment in mathematics degree programs.

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code works to address the gender gap in the computing industry by inspiring young girls to pursue these fields, and ensuring they’re armed with the solid education they need to do it. To help educate the female technology workers of tomorrow, the organization sponsors the Summer Immersion Program, where young female students are offered courses in subjects like computer science, robotics and web design. Students in this program have the opportunity to get mentored by female leaders in the technology industry.


NASA has a number of resources for teachers and students alike that are designed to encourage an interest in science and tech. For educators, NASA offers a number of educational resources and publications that keep them abreast of the agency’s scientific work, as well as help them teach science. Students can find several resources on NASA’s website, including ebooks, videos and apps.

Anita Borg Institute

The Anita Borg Institute celebrates women who’ve been successful in technology careers and serve as inspiration to those interested in following in their footsteps. Named after a pioneer who worked to advance women in technology, the organization offers programs designed to encourage female students who want to pursue technology careers.


TechWomen is dedicated to supporting women from Africa and the Middle East interested in entering STEM careers. To that end, the organization offers mentoring programs that expose these women to their successful counterparts from the United States, allowing them to share ideas and connect with one another professionally and personally.

To find out more about courses and programs in STEM check out our exclusive feature on the 50 STEM Majors with the Best Value 2014. Additionally, be sure to check out our school listings below.



Interview with Adriane Bradberry, Communications Director, National Center for Women & Information Technology, conducted by Eda Liu

“Engaging Girls in STEM,” National Girls Collaborative Project, Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.ngcproject.org/engaging-girls-stem

“National Center for Women & Information Technology,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.ncwit.org/

“Million Women Mentors,” Accessed October 21, 2014, https://www.millionwomenmentors.org/

“Association for Women in Science,” Accessed October 21, 2014, https://awis.site-ym.com/

“American Association of University Women,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.aauw.org/

“Society of Women Engineers,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.bluegrassswe.org/

“Mathematical Association of America,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.maa.org/about-maa/advocacy

“National Math and Science Initiative,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.nms.org

“Girls Who Code,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://girlswhocode.com/

“NASA,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.nasa.gov

“Anita Borg Institute,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://anitaborg.org/

“TechWomen,” Accessed October 21, 2014, https://www.techwomen.org/

“Association for Career and Technical Education,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.acteonline.org/

“Change the Equation,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://changetheequation.org/

“National Defense Industrial Association,” Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.ndia.org/Divisions/Divisions/STEM/Pages/default.aspx

“STEM Fields And The Gender Gap: Where Are The Women?” Forbes, Accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/20/stem-fields-and-the-gender-gap-where-are-the-women/

“Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation,” U.S. Department of Commerce, August 2011, http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/womeninstemagaptoinnovation8311.pdf

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