ASTC and IF/THEN® award more than $300,000 to 27 science centers and museums to advance equity in gender representation
Grantees leverage the IF/THEN® Collection digital library to increase representation of women in museum exhibits
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA – The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) has named 27 new recipients of IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grants. Through the support of IF/THEN®, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies®, more than $300,000 is being awarded to ASTC-member science and technology centers and museums in the United States seeking to address equity in gender representation across museum content. In addition to these grantees, 26 science centers and museums received more than $200,000 in Round One grants in 2020.
The IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grant program offers science centers the opportunity to launch projects that increase the representation of women and gender minorities in STEM, as part of their broader efforts to advance diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.
IF/THEN® partnered with ASTC and its network of nearly 400 science and technology centers and museums across the United States to provide a multi-round grant program of $650,000 for ASTC-member museums to showcase greater gender diversity across their exhibits, displays, and materials by using assets from the IF/THEN® Collection. This investment is particularly needed: according to preliminary information collected by ASTC, women make up just 21% of STEM professionals in museum exhibits.
The IF/THEN® Collection is the largest, free resource of its kind with thousands of powerful photos and videos of the diverse, contemporary women in STEM. The Collection is a critical component of IF/THEN®’s mission to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers as well as create a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM. The Collection features 125 women STEM innovators selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Lyda Hill Philanthropies® to be AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors, all serving as high-profile role models for girls. The IF/THEN® Collection serves as a resource for nonprofit organizations, museums, schools, teachers, camps, parents, media, and others.
Among the 27 projects are four Moonshot Awards to support extraordinary efforts that are designed to be easily replicated by other institutions or that will produce materials to share with other science centers and museums:
- California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California
The California Academy of Sciences will develop a pop-up exhibit that tells the first-person stories of LGBTQ+ women and gender minorities of color in STEM. The exhibit, which will also exist as a virtual exhibit featuring additional profiles and content, is designed to be easily, inexpensively recreated and displayed by other science centers and museums. The goal is to create space for the LGBTQ+ community to see themselves in STEM, and to help all audiences better recognize the true diversity of STEM practitioners.
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), Portland, Oregon
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will develop visual narratives that highlight the creativity and skills of women and girls practicing engineering. The project will result in videos featuring IF/THEN® engineer ambassadors and Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge winners that will be featured prominently in the museum and in a traveling exhibit on an eight-year national tour. Additionally, the project will provide women-inclusive online engineering education resources.
- Dayton Society of Natural History, Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Society of Natural History will develop an interactive exhibit to engage visitors in STEM career pathways and expose them to real life STEM professionals. Participants will choose their own path—starting with hobbies such as puzzles or drawing—leading to specific STEM careers and highlighting diverse professionals in those careers, including both local scientists and IF/THEN® Ambassadors.
- Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and its affiliated Leslie Science & Nature Center will build an interactive space in a new STEM gallery that will give visitors the chance to engage with images and videos from the IF/THEN® Collection and others created locally of women and LGBTQ+ in STEM. This experience will encourage everyone to see themselves pursuing STEM careers. In addition, visitors will be encouraged to interact with the exhibit and their community through digital thought questions and other opportunities to share their reactions and impressions.
Twenty-three more science centers and museums received up to $10,000 each for a range of projects, including the development and updating of exhibits that are expected to reach more than five million people a year. Here is the list of recipients:
- Air Zoo, Portage, Michigan
- Asheville Museum of Science, Asheville, North Carolina
- Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Wilmington, North Carolina
- Catawba Science Center, Hickory, North Carolina
- Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
- DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Discovery Museum, Acton, Massachusetts
- Imagination Station, Toledo, Ohio
- International Museum of Art & Science, McAllen, Texas
- International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, Illinois
- Long Island Explorium, Port Jefferson, New York
- Montana Science Center, Bozeman, Montana
- MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry), Tampa, Florida
- Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina
- Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts
- National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), New York, New York
- Orlando Science Center, Orlando, Florida
- Science Central, Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Frisco, Texas
- South Dakota Discovery Center, Pierre, South Dakota
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana
- The Works Museum, Bloomington, Minnesota
- Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, Wenatchee, Washington
A public summary of each project is available at www.astc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/ASTC-IFTHEN-Round-2-Public-Statements.pdf.
Christofer Nelson, ASTC’s president and CEO, looks forward to the innovation that these grants will foster across the science center community. “I am excited to see the new ways that our members will be able to create new ways of science learning and community engagement, with equity and inclusion at its core,” said Nelson. “By allowing more than two dozen science centers and museums across the country to try something new, support from the IF/THEN® Initiative and Lyda Hill Philanthropies® is enabling our members to accelerate much needed change in who is seen as a part of science.”
“We are excited to partner with ASTC to help create a culture shift in STEM and increase female representation at science centers and museums across the country,” said Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies® and co-founder of the IF/THEN® Initiative. “We know that ‘IF she can see it, THEN she can be it’ and the IF/THEN® Collection offers unlimited opportunities to showcase images of real, diverse women in STEM careers to educate and inspire the next generation of STEM pioneers.”
The IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grant program is one element of ASTC’s commitment to advancing gender representation through the IF/THEN® Initiative. In February 2020, ASTC released the IF/THEN® Gender Representation Toolkit, which is being used by science museums around the world to collect data on their visual representation of gender across different types of museum content. Through a partnership with the National Girls Collaborative Project, ASTC-member museums in the United States have access to the IF/THEN® Collection.
Launched by Lyda Hill Philanthropies®, the IF/THEN® Initiative is built on the mantra that, “If we support a woman in STEM, Then she can change the world.” The initiative includes a large coalition of organizations that span science, media, fashion, education, philanthropy, entertainment, sports, and beyond.
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IF/THEN® is part of Lyda Hill Philanthropies®’ commitment to fund game-changing advancements in science and nature. IF/THEN® seeks to further advance women in STEM by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers. Rooted in a firm belief that there is no better time to highlight positive and successful female professional role models, IF/THEN® is designed to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers by: (1) funding and elevating women in STEM as role models, (2) convening cross-sector partners in entertainment, fashion, sports, business, and academia to illuminate the importance of STEM everywhere, and (3) inspiring girls with better portrayals of women in STEM through media and learning experiences to pique their interest in STEM careers. To learn more, visit www.ifthenshecan.org or follow IF/THEN® on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About Lyda Hill Philanthropies®
Lyda Hill Philanthropies® encompasses the charitable giving of founder Lyda Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy. As one of its priorities, Lyda Hill Philanthropies® funds transformational advances in science and nature. To learn more, please visit lydahillphilanthropies.org.
Founded in 1973, ASTC is a network of nearly 700 science and technology centers and museums, and allied organizations, engaging more than 110 million people annually across North America and in almost 50 countries. With its members and partners, ASTC works towards a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. Visit www.astc.org or follow ASTC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.