10,000 Mentors of Tennessee

The State of Tennessee is joining forces with the national movement called Million Women Mentors® (MWM) to increase the number of girls pursuing STEM careers. The national program’s goal is to provide one million mentors in STEM related fields to get more females into STEM related fields. Our goal in Tennessee is to get at least 10,000 volunteers – women and men – to serve as mentors in all parts of the state. These volunteers will mentor girls and young women to get excited about – and feel confident about – pursuing STEM education and careers.  The main goals of the program are to:

  • Increase the percentage of high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers.
  • Increase the percentage of young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM fields.
  • Increase the percentage of women staying in STEM careers.

Million Women Mentors is an engagement campaign and national call to action that mobilizes corporations, government entities, non-profit and higher education groups, around the imperative of mentoring girls and young women in STEM fields.  In TN we have a strong steering committee of these organizations that has been assembled to get people involved.  In addition, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has agreed to serve as the Honorary Chair of the state group as he believes that this effort will continue to improve the economic and workforce efforts in the state. “I am proud to support the Million Women Mentors initiative in our state and look forward to the positive results it will bring. With evidence showing a lack of women and girls entering STEM programs and careers, it is more important than ever to translate strong STEM outreach and advocacy into action. I encourage the people of Tennessee, corporations and STEM-serving organizations to support MWM by taking the ‘pledge-to-mentor’.”, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey.

Sheila Boyington, President of Chattanooga-based Thinking Media and an engineer herself serves as the National Senior Advisor to the Million Women Mentor effort and is leading the state by state effort across the country.  “This is the time for those in our country to step up to give our next generation opportunities to pursue high demand STEM careers.  Providing guidance to girls and young women toward the STEM fields will contribute to the economic growth of our country. We need each of you that can support this effort by mentoring to join us!”

“Tennessee is ready to move forward as a leader in recruiting mentors for our students who are the future workforce in our state. We must show Tennessee girls that hard work and determination in STEM education can lead to a fulfilling career.”

Lulu Copeland, Manager, Extended Technical Education and Training Engineering Technology Division Chattanooga State Community College, Lulu.Copeland@ChattanoogaState.EDU and Judith Iriarte-Gross, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Women In STEM Center at MTSU, Judith.iriarte-gross@mtsu.edu, serve as co-directors for MWM in Tennessee.

Role Models Matter in Tennessee

Who was your role model or mentor? Who inspired you to pursue your career path? Most of us can think of at least one person that mentored us; unfortunately, we can usually think of many more that discouraged us. Often kids are discouraged by well-meaning adults who do not possess the proper tools to effectively motivate and communicate with students. That is why is it so important for all adults who interact with children to be properly trained as an effective role model.

Role Models Matter is for parents, teachers, STEM professionals or any adult who is interested in impacting girls and all students in a positive way. The Role Models Matter training process consists of several distinct parts, each with engaging, interactive activities. You will learn and practice being effective role models, and also gain valuable tips and tools for coaching special presenters in classrooms, after-school programs or other student-centered forums. In addition, you will learn techniques to prepare other potential role models to interact effectively with students. The GRITS Collaborative Project has a certified Role Models Matter trainer on its Leadership Team. Contact Maria Toncray at mmtoncray@yahoo.com to learn more!

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Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center

As a result of the various STEM activities developed and initiated by Dr. Iriarte-Gross, she proposed and then established the WISTEM Center in July 2009. The mission of the Center is to enable the campus and the community to realize the intellectual potential and utilize the expertise of women in the STEM disciplines. WISTEM is the home for all the outreach activities such as EYH, GRITS, WISE, and now the Tennessee initiative for Million Women Mentors!

Partnerships have been established with SciGirls (PBS television) and with Role Models Matter of Techbridge. These two outstanding programs provide educators, Girl Scout leaders, industrial and government STEM professionals, and informal STEM institutions with knowledge needed to mentor young women in STEM. A collaboration with Nissan North America and Microsoft resulted in the first DigiGirlz Day in March 2013. The 2015 middle Tennessee DigiGirlz is scheduled for February 28, 2015.

Dr. Iriarte-Gross and WISTEM Advisory Board members mentor undergraduate and graduate women by providing leadership opportunities and by guiding them as they organize and host various WISTEM sponsored events on campus. Young women are encourage to reach back and mentor others as they move forward in their education and career. Providing diverse leadership opportunities for college women is just one innovative mentoring activity offered by WISTEM.

Career Exploration with Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA)

As a mentor for CGLA, Lulu Copeland, coordinates visits for students and professionals.

On October 15, 2014, these seniors from CGLA visited Unum, a life, disability, and accident insurance company in Chattanooga. The women professionals shared their education and career experiences and chat with the girls about their hopes and dreams.

career exploration

CGLA students from left to right: Yureli Ambriz-Garcia, Luz Martinez, Evelin Xiloj, Ashlin Smith, Michaela Rafael, Mariana Hernandez

Unum women professionals are: Zary Colon, Senior Linguist, Corporate Marketing; Glenda Wilson, AVP, Enrollment Technology, Global Services International; Sandy Franklin, Enterprise Application Architect; Brooke Standefer, AVP, Financial Shared Services & Asset Accounting; Elizabeth Jessen,  AVP, Global Business Resiliency, Global Infrastructure Group

100 Girls of Code Chattanooga, October 2014

100 girls of code

As part of Startup Week Chattanooga, TN Code Academy hosted a “100 Girls of Code” workshop for Chattanooga females. The free computer programming workshop brought in 30 girls, ages 12 to 18, from across the city. Girls were mentored and instructed by other female programmers to create video games and websites. The event took place at AIR Labs, an after-school program where students can learn the basics of programming.

Society of Women Engineers and Women in Technology Chattanooga visited all girls charter school, January 2015

sole lunch

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy is an all girl charter school, and the first STEM school in Chattanooga. Lulu Copeland as board member and chairperson of the STEAM committee organized a lunch visit and tour to recruit mentors.

Attendees (not all are pictured):

Miriam Carter – IT Process Integrationist Specialist – VW; Jennifer Ellis – Asst Professor, UTC; Janet Felton – Director of IT & Operations, Southeast TN Development District; Penny Hughey – Regional Relationship Center, AIM; Dawn Hjelseth – Director of Development Greenspaces; Jessica Ivins – Facilitator/Maker of Awesomeness  – Center Centre; Ronna-Renee Jackson – Executive Director, Technology Council; Leslie Jensen-Inman; Emily Maxie – Marketing Director Signix; LaNea Rogers – Kenco Group

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