More than 20 Central Illinois women in key STEM careers selected to help guide girls into STEM related fields before entering college.
The Girl Scouts of Central Illinois has created the first Girl Scouts STEM Advisory Council to help provide troops with stronger, more focused programming in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. More than 20 highly successful women from companies and organizations including Caterpillar, State Farm, Ameren, and the Society of Women Engineers-Central Illinois have been selected to make up the council with the goal of raising the level of STEM programming within the local Girl Scouts chapters and engage them to explore these field with greater depth at a young age.
“It’s not easy to choose a career path if your exposure to the real scope of opportunity is limited,” GSCI CEO Pam Kovacevich said. “We want to build confidence in our young ladies by providing them with role models who are successful leaders in STEM fields. We are beyond excited about the level of participation in this council and grateful to these women for giving their time and expertise to prepare the next generation of professionals in these fields.”
The council has been tasked with developing age-level appropriate STEM programming including curriculum and conferences that can be delivered in a variety of program settings and introduce more girls to STEM related occupations. The goal is to build the confidence of girl members so they aspire to seek out careers within the STEM field as well as aid community partners in filling the pipeline of potential employees with former Girl Scouts.
Sowmya Nagesh a Senior Performance Engineer at Caterpillar and one of the first women to join the council. She has special interest in helping other women of color succeed in STEM and improve the educational path young girls take to be successful.
“Recent studies by SWE (Society of Engineers) and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) have shown only 10-13 percent of young women of color are retained in engineering fields by the time they get to Sophomore year of college. And messaging to tweens has not been where it can be. I want to work with the council to sharpen the message we send to K-8 female students to promote and highlight the possibilities in STEM careers.”
“By creating a stronger concentration of STEM programming through the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, we can have the opportunity to plant a seed of curiosity and create an increased comfort level of STEM exploration in future generations of women,” Dr. Juanita Morris, professor at Benedictine University, and GSCI STEM Advisory Council member said.
Advisory Council members have agreed to serve 2-year term during which they would attend four meetings annually either in person or virtually, provide expertise in the field of STEM to GSCI program staff, help GSCI’s council identify funding sources for extraordinary programmatic efforts and most importantly, be a mentor and resource for these young women.
The council to date is made up of the following extraordinary women:
- Sowmya Nagesh, Senior Performance Engineer, Caterpillar Inc.
- Marla Brotherton, MBA, Technology Director – Systems at State Farm®
- Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Dr. Juanita Morris, entrepreneur, adjunct faculty
- Mary Cave, PE, Associate at Chastain & Associates, Inc.
- Lee Breeggemann, Engineer, Caterpillar
- Bobbi Fults, University of Illinois, Springfield
- Mary-Margaret McHugh, Illinois State University
- Jennifer Ogle, Caterpillar, Inc
- Heather McConnell-Smith, Ameren, Inc
- Mary Patton, University of Illinois, Retired
- Amanda Martin, Caterpillar, Inc.
- Angie Ostaszewski, Ameren, Inc.
- Eileen Parn, Chief Human Resource Officer, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois
- Mary Mueller, Chief Financial Officer, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois