LANSING (WWJ) — Women make up just 11 percent of engineering employees, according to the National Council for Research on Women. And  only 4.1 percent of girls asked about their career expectations plan to go into a STEM career.

A group of Lansing women is trying to change that.

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The Women’s Leadership Council of the Capital Area United Way recently awarded a $26,000 Women’s Initiative Grant to the new partnership between Lansing’s Information Technology Empowerment Center, a tech training center in a former Lansing elementary school, and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology in support of their innovative, girls-only STEM program called 2020 Girls.

ITEC has conducted youth classes in the Lansing area since 2008, including several courses geared towards girls. In this partnership with MCWT, 2020 Girls will more explicitly focus on girls in the organizations’ collective efforts to address inequalities in STEM education and careers.

“2020 Girls seeks to combat the perception that STEM subjects are inherently for males or somehow off-limits to women and girls,” said Kirk Riley, ITEC’s Executive Director. “We’re introducing them to instructors with whom they can identify and activities that capture their imagination.”

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A two-year student achievement grant, 2020 Girls can expect an additional award of $26,000 pending a successful outcomes report. Building girls’ affinity for STEM directly contributes to the CAUW’s goal to help students stay in school and succeed and the Women’s Leadership Council’s efforts to mobilize the power of women in their communities.

“We’re thrilled with the potential of this project and its potential to make a positive impact on the lives of Greater Lansing girls,” said Joan Bauer, chair of the CAUW Women’s Leadership Council.

Approximately 100 students will participate in programming, engineering and design activities led by female instructors. They will also take field trips to local sites where STEM is a part of daily operations and build relationships with mentors.

“The program aims to send these young women on a trajectory towards success in college and careers, in 2020 and beyond,” said Maria Jasinski, MCWT board member and vice president of information technology at Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Co.

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