Get exited about STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

It’s never too early to start planting the seeds for children to have a passion for education and expose them to viable study areas and careers. It’s never too late for girls and women to be shown that STEM careers are in exciting fields that many of them should explore.

STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—has long been dominated by men who have been much more likely to gravitate to these professions than women. But WGU Nevada Chancellor Spencer Stewart is hoping the tides will turn as more institutions get the word out to encourage females to earn higher education degrees in these lucrative areas.

“It’s important for both girls and women to understand that many possibilities exist within STEM fields,” Stewart said. “As these areas continue to grow nationally, females should not shy away from embarking on studies and careers in these burgeoning industries.”

STEM jobs are integrated in a plethora of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, medical research, IT areas and even teaching as more experts are needed to help educate students on STEM focuses. Nevada is also home to many significant employers who seek a STEM-educated workforce.

According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings. At current rates, however, only about 30 percent of those jobs can be filled with U.S. computing bachelor’s graduates. Girls represent a valuable, mostly untapped talent pool.

The more higher education institutions and other organizations get the word out about scholarships and phenomenal opportunities for women in STEM careers, the smaller that gap will become… We are hopeful that women of all ages will develop an interest in these opportunities that await them. – Spencer Stewart

WGU Nevada student Ashley Hughes-Jefferson, who is studying for a Bachelors of Science degree in information technology, said she was working with AT&T and wanted to expand her knowledge in the IT area.

“I think it’s important for women to step outside the box and go for more positions in the IT field,” said Hughes-Jefferson. “We are capable and able to perform the job as good as anyone else in the field.”

In additional efforts to help, WGU Nevada recently launched a scholarship in partnership with the Southern Nevada Cybersecurity Alliance. Prospective students interested in enrolling in any of the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs under WGU’s College of Information Technology can apply for one of two $10,000 scholarships available through March 31.

To be eligible, scholarship applicants must be officially admitted into one of WGU Nevada’s undergraduate or post graduate IT degree programs, complete the scholarship application, and be interviewed by a WGU scholarship counselor. Recipients will be selected based on their academic records, financial need, and readiness for online study at WGU Nevada. WGU Nevada also has a “Women in Leadership” scholarship program.

“The more higher education institutions and other organizations get the word out about scholarships and phenomenal opportunities for women in STEM careers, the smaller that gap will become,” Stewart said. “We are hopeful that women of all ages will develop an interest in these opportunities that await them.”

WGU Nevada uses an innovative approach called competency-based education, which measures learning rather than time spent in class. Competency-based education is a good fit for working business professionals because it allows them to study and learn at their own pace and advance as soon as they have mastered course materials. Students have 24/7 access to their course materials, and faculty members provide one-on-one support. Since WGU Nevada programs are self-paced, many students are able to accelerate their studies, finishing their degree sooner. To learn more or check on qualifications, visit nevada.wgu.edu.

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