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Rural Matters

Feb 20, 2019

Michelle chats with Tim Griffin, Lt. Gov. of Arkansas; Jeff Weld, Iowa State Director of STEM, STEM Education Policy Consultant for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and author of the just released Federal STEM Strategic Plan; and Sheila Boyington, CEO of Learning Blade and national states chair for Million Women Mentors, about STEM education for girls. Only 24 percent of STEM jobs are currently held by women, Michelle notes. Boyington talks about being a token woman engineer and how to make girls and women more aware of STEM career opportunities and the importance of mentoring, including virtual mentoring in rural areas. Weld notes that, in Iowa, there are a variety of programs, including Scale Up, promoting diversity that are data-driven and whose impact is continually being assessed. These programs include teacher externships and initiatives that connect STEM students with professionals in hospitals and other businesses in rural and other communities. Lt. Gov. Griffin points out that coding is taught in every high school in Arkansas, producing a cultural and educational change in the lower grades as well. We’re underperforming in involving girls in STEM, according to Lt. Gov. Griffin, and there’s where the opportunities to meet national shortages in this area lie. Schools should take students on field trips to local businesses, concludes Boyington..and we need to use multiple resources to promote STEM education in general, and to girls specifically. This episode was sponsored by NREA, and Learning Blade,