Together, We Are Stronger
Michelle Obama (Archives)

I Support Educational Opportunities for Women Because of Students Like Samantha

This is a guest post by Ronda Brandon, NMSI’s Vice President of Teacher Development and Academic Strategy, in response to the First Lady’s Medium post “Together, We Are Stronger.”

Women are being left behind in the critical fields of math and science.

Today, women represent 48 percent of the workforce, but hold only 24 percent of STEM jobs. This gap starts to form when young women are in high school, shying away from rigorous math, science and English courses. Although the gender gap has narrowed over the years, young men are still outperforming young women on standardized tests measuring math and science understanding. And at the college level many of the undergraduates who leave science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) majors are disproportionately women and minority students.

It is critical that we continue to close the gap.

A friend recently asked me why this is important… I told her about NMSI student Samantha from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Samantha, a freshman, was challenged to take Advanced Placement® (AP®) science courses by a dedicated teacher who saw something in a curious young woman. Thanks to a talented educator and access to an engaging science class, now she wants to study Biology when she goes to college.

Samantha, a high school freshman from Pittsburgh participating in NMSI’s College Readiness Program, adjusts a microscope during a Study Session this spring. Samantha aspires to study Biology when she goes to college.

Students like Samantha showcase the importance of ensuring women are provided the same educational opportunities as men.

Our College Readiness Program (CRP) is raising the academic bar, demonstrating that all students, especially underrepresented groups like female students, can master rigorous AP math, science and English coursework. Thanks to this program, NMSI’s partner schools, have seen a dramatic 112 percent increase in the number of young women earning AP qualifying scores over the three year program. This is more than five times the national average.

We, as women, are responsible for helping the next generation of women chart their course and thrive in whatever they aspire to do.

NMSI is proud that we are helping ensure that young women have the opportunity to succeed in math, science an English courses. And I am proud to represent NMSI at the #StateofWomen and make the pledge to change our tomorrow.

On June 14, NMSI will participate in the inaugural United State of Women Summit, a large-scale effort to rally together advocates of gender equality to highlight what we’ve achieved, identify the challenges that remain, and chart the course for addressing them.

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