Despite the fact that female and male students perform equally in mathematics and science on standardized tests in K-12 grades, women remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce today. Fortunately, STEM took the spotlight with the release of the “Hidden Figures” film which increased awareness of past gender and racial inequity. The film has not only inspired girls to pursue their interests in STEM but it also encouraged society and companies to address the STEM gender gap that is still present today. On the heels of “Hidden Figures,” here are three companies making major STEM commitments:
- In response to the STEM buzz created by the movie, PepsiCo, 21st Century Fox and the New York Academy of Sciences partnered to launch “The Search for Hidden Figures” scholarship contest, awarding $200,000 in scholarships and prizes to emerging female STEM leaders .The campaign also included a digital media effort, which gave film fans a chance to test their STEM skills with a collection of mobile and web games and quizzes.
- Gender stereotypes are a major factor in girls turning away from STEM. With 62 percent of girls in the UK stating they would like to see more encouragement coming from female role models working as coders, developers and lab scientists, Microsoft began running female-focused events programs across the world. These programs give young women a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to work at Microsoft. The tech giant also partnered with Girlguiding and Modern Muse to connect young women to a vast network of STEM professionals who share their advice and experiences.
- To further STEM education in grade schools, Baylor College of Medicine and Hess Corporation partnered to create a STEM education curriculum based around Hess toy trucks that will be available for free for schools nationwide. The toy truck kit includes a teacher’s manual with activity sheets and 10 Hess Toy Trucks and Dragsters, enabling teachers to introduce STEM concepts through play.
The launch of “Hidden Figures” is the perfect moment in time for companies to share their commitments to the STEM cause – and “Hidden Figures” star, Aldis Hodge, said that the film has already encouraged more girls to pursue their interests in STEM. With companies stepping up to decrease obstacles, they are not only investing in the futures of young STEM visionaries, but also investing in a more diverse and skilled applicant pool for the future.