AAUW to Receive $250,000 Grant for STEM Programming from Alcoa Foundation

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The organization announces its new collaboration to invest in girls and communities.

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The American Association of University Women (AAUW) will receive a $250,000 grant from Alcoa Foundation to address the global gender gap in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. With this funding, AAUW will expand its successful STEM education programs for girls to new sites where Alcoa has operations: Székesfehérvár, Hungary, and Barberton, Ohio, in the United States. Over the next two years, this collaboration will give hundreds of middle school girls the chance to participate in fun, experiential STEM programs that demonstrate the opportunities and benefits for women in these fields.

Across the globe, women are underrepresented in STEM fields. Women hold nearly half of all jobs in the United States but fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that jobs requiring a STEM background will grow by 17 percent over the next 10 years. According to the National Science Foundation, women in Hungary earned approximately 1,200 university degrees in engineering in 2009, accounting for 36.2 percent of the engineering degrees conferred there that year. Hungary-based manufacturers attest that, despite a serious need for skilled workers in technical jobs, the available workforce does not have the training to fill them. Preparing more women to enter these fields is important to these companies and will be necessary to the economic future of the region.

STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step toward realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.

“Alcoa Foundation’s commitment to increasing girls’ and women’s participation in STEM fields at all job levels is an outstanding example of how thoughtful engagement can advance corporate interests and benefit local communities. Thanks to Alcoa Foundation, we will be able to make real change on two continents by encouraging girls to consider and prepare for a future in STEM,” said AAUW Executive Director and CEO Linda D. Hallman, CAE.

“Talent is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation aim to help close the skills gap and support talent development by preparing girls for rewarding careers in advanced manufacturing,” said Esra Ozer, president of Alcoa Foundation. “Closing the skills gap is a global issue, and AAUW’s initiatives will inform and prepare middle school girls for a successful future in a number of critical STEM-related fields.”

To address local workforce needs in Barberton and Székesfehérvár, AAUW will develop customized programs to engage girls in engineering, technical trades, and other STEM fields, with input from Alcoa facilities in these locations. In addition to increasing participants’ enthusiasm for STEM, the programs help the girls’ families encourage them to continue in these fields.

AAUW has a proven track record of program delivery, providing STEM education to more than 11,000 girls each year at the branch, state, and national levels. AAUW’s national STEM camps and conferences target middle school girls because middle school is a critical time for girls to maintain their interest in STEM and begin taking courses that will lead to future STEM opportunities.

The AAUW research report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics provides compelling evidence that environmental and social barriers continue to limit women’s participation and progress in these fields. The report recommends evidence-based actions that effectively overcome bias and stereotypes. These recommendations form the foundation of AAUW’s STEM programs and have helped position AAUW as a global expert on women and STEM.

For more information, visit http://www.aauw.org and search for “Why So Few?” or “STEM.” Follow @AAUWSTEM on Twitter for the latest on this new collaboration.

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The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university partners. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, our members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. Learn more and join us at http://www.aauw.org.

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $470 million. Founded 62 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $590 million. In 2013, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2013, a record 62 percent of Alcoa employees took part in nearly 1,300 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 505,000 people and 1,900 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit http://www.alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

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Katie Broendel
American Association of University Women
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