SMWC partners with State Department to increase STEM students
December 20th, 2011 | By Dee Reed
Despite the growing number of women with college degrees, only 25 percent of these degrees are earned in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. As a leader in women’s education for nearly two centuries, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) recognizes the global need to make women more visible in these careers. By joining the international initiative, NeXXt Scholars, SMWC will provide young women from predominantly Muslim countries opportunities to earn STEM-related undergraduate degrees from U.S. women’s colleges.
Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the NeXXt Scholars program kicked off Dec. 10, 2011, at the New York Academy of Sciences, during the “Celebrating Women in Science” event.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement via video. “Advancing opportunities for women around the globe is an issue that is important to me and a core element of my agenda as Secretary of State,” Clinton said. “By providing women with better access to educational opportunities, the NeXXt Scholars program will help arm a new generation of women to be change agents in their communities and prepare them to become the next Madame Curies.”
Dottie L. King, Ph.D., president of SMWC and Janet Clark, Ph.D., SMWC’s vice president of academic affairs attended the gala, which united outstanding female scientists and successful industry leaders with a vision of empowering young women to excel in science. The College partners with 35 other U.S. women’s colleges in the NeXXt Scholars program.
“The NeXXt Scholars initiative is a natural outreach for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and for all women's colleges,” King said. “It provides the means for us to advance our historic and shared mission to empower women. Not only will the initiative facilitate opportunities for young women from other countries, but the presence of these women on our campuses will uplift the educational atmosphere for all of our students.”
The program provides membership in the New York Academy of Sciences, including access to the STEM community through scientific mentors, leadership, internship, research and networking opportunities. The recruitment process is underway through EducationUSA centers in 46 countries and regions.
State Department organizers indicated that over time the benefits of this program, coupled with the efforts of other institutions, will influence women at earlier stages in their education “by developing more supportive educational environments, increasing the number of women role models in society, and contributing to changing social norms in communities throughout the world.”