ASTC is working with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) as part of a national initiative to advance women in STEM by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of female pioneers. Launched by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, IF/THEN® is built on the mantra that “if we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.”
This first-of-its-kind coalition emphasizes that STEM is everywhere, essential to the success of all fields from entertainment to business, and that there is no better time to highlight positive and successful female professional role models to activate a culture shift among young girls and their potential of careers in STEM. ASTC and NGCP are working with IF/THEN® to increase representation of women in STEM fields, make positive representations of women available to informal STEM learning organizations, and inspire and engage young women to pursue STEM courses and careers.
Several resources and opportunities will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months to increase the representation of women in science centers and museums:
- ASTC has led the development of the Gender Representation Toolkit which will help science centers collect data on their visual representation of gender. These data will contribute to a field-wide understanding of how science centers are representing women and gender minorities to identify areas of improvement and better determine the resources needed for growth. We also hope this toolkit will prompt conversations between museum staff about gender equity and help support organizations’ broader diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity efforts.
- After using the toolkit to collect data, ASTC member institutions in the U.S. will be eligible to apply for IF/THEN® Grants to advance a project that addresses gender equity in their museum, including through exhibits, program materials, signage, websites, promotional materials, and other content. There will be two rounds of IF/THEN® grants, with the application for the first round to open in March.
- NGCP is working to develop the IF/THEN® Collection, a digital library of free photos and videos featuring inspiring women in STEM that ASTC members can use to increase their representation of women. Watch for more information on the IF/THEN Collection this summer!
ASTC is hosting a webinar on Thursday, February 27 (3 pm EST), to provide more information about the toolkit and grants; registration is now available.
Other aspects of the IF/THEN® initiative include the following:
- The AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassadors Program identified 125 innovators across a range of careers, sectors, and career stages who will serve as high-profile models for middle school girls. Ambassadors from the ASTC community include Olivia Castellini, senior exhibit developer at the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago); and Becca Peixotto, director of the Center for the Exploration of the Human Journey, and Myria Perez, fossil preparator at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Dallas).
- These 125 Ambassadors came together in Dallas this past October for a three-day summit where they received trainings in the fundamentals of communication, storytelling, and social media, as well as individualized coaching on how to tell a compelling personal story. Each was also professionally photographed and filmed so that their images and stories can be made available to educators and non-profits through the IF/THEN® Collection. The highlight of the summit included an event at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science with talks from Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis, legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and philanthropist Melinda Gates.
- IF/THEN® launched a new Saturday morning television series now airing on CBS: Mission Unstoppable. The show, hosted by iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove and created by an all-female leadership team, highlights women who are STEM superstars—including some of the IF/THEN® Ambassadors. The series, which is produced for children ages 13–16, aims to empower young women and showcase the many career possibilities in STEM.
To stay up to date on ASTC’s activities related to the IF/THEN® project, please sign up for our interest list below.
Amanda Fisher, manager of gender equity initiatives, is leading ASTC’s participation in IF/THEN®.