When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be a Girl Scout. Earning badges and wearing the uniform was majorly appealing to my six-year-old self. Unfortunately, my mother was putting herself through college during the day by working second shift as a cashier in the evenings, so we didn’t have much time for meetings and camping trips.
However, my mom was an amazing role model who taught me that girls could do anything. In fact, she even purchased a plaque for my room that declared this, and because she said it time and again, I knew it to be true. Now that I am a mother myself, I am working to build this same belief in my daughter by sharing my mother’s words of wisdom and giving her the experiences I didn’t have.
When my daughter started kindergarten this year, I immediately searched for a Girl Scout troop for her to join. I knew about the change the Girl Scouts had underwent since my childhood, with a significant investment in STEM programming and a mission to inspire girls to be the leaders of tomorrow — and knew I wanted my daughter to be a part of this organization.
Through these activities, the Girl Scouts invest in girls’ STEM-related interests where women are underrepresented in the workforce. As a human resources executive for a technology company, I see firsthand the need to encourage girls to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering and math. I also know that diversity matters in business. Successful companies embrace employees from different backgrounds and, as a result, these companies outperform their peers. In technology fields, finding enough qualified women to hire and promote is a challenge that the best companies, like Ericsson, are committed to resolve.
For those who are not familiar with Ericsson, we are one of the leaders in connecting people, businesses and industries through our mobile broadband technologies. Our goal is to have a workforce that is 30 percent female by 2020. Thirty percent might sound low, but today we are only at 23 percent, which unfortunately is on par with other technology companies. One of the reasons we see these low numbers is that girls aren’t choosing STEM fields as often as boys.
Overcoming this challenge starts long before girls choose their college major. We need to reach girls in their formative years when they are still open to trying new things and help them develop a passion for STEM. That is why Ericsson is partnering with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, and Girl Scout councils across the United States and Canada, to introduce girls to STEM subjects. We want to show young women the world of possibilities available to them when they pursue opportunities in math, science and engineering.
Our work with the Girl Scouts started in Dallas, where we built an extensive fiber network to provide internet connectivity throughout the nation’s first STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars. In addition, to ensure that troop leaders are comfortable working with the girls on STEM topics, we have taken one of Ericsson’s internal training tools, called Jumpstart, and customized it with Girl Scout STEM content. This web-based platform walks leaders through basic STEM topics, such as robotics, cybersecurity and programming, with the content geared toward the different levels of Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts has pledged to get 2.5 million girls into the STEM pipeline by 2025. Ericsson, other technology companies and the world needs this to happen so we can harness the power that comes when we bring diverse minds together to solve the problems of the world. I am excited that my daughter and I are part of this movement. I look forward to the day when she and her troop spend time at the STEM Center of Excellence exploring the phenomenal curriculum that is available. I look forward to helping her develop the confidence, leadership skills and STEM expertise — with the Girl Scouts — that will open unlimited doors in her future. After all, I know from personal experience that girls can do anything!
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