Companies from across the St. Louis region are launching a new program on Monday that’s aimed at steering women toward careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, related fields.
The mentoring and job shadowing project is a partnership between the private all-girls Catholic high school Cor Jesu Academy and companies that include Ameren, Watlow and Barry-Wehmille Companies, Inc.
President of Cor Jesu Academy, Sister Barbara Thomas, said they’ve worked with each company so that a woman engineer is onsite to guide students.
“The companies that we’ve spoken to have said that we will highly encourage them and tell them that when they graduate from Rolla, or wherever they chose to go, that we’ll be there looking for them and we’ll hope to bring them on to our company,” Thomas said.
A 2012 report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee notes that only 14 percent of the engineering workforce is made up of women. Thomas said they hope to learn from the program and share that information with other schools interested in encouraging women to explore careers in STEM related fields.
Company President of DJM Ecological Services, Doug Bauer, said if it works, the idea will catch on fast as way to encourage more women to choose science related careers.
“I think St. Louis has the benefit of being a town where networks matter,” Bauer said. “If this works at Cor Jesu, I think this will replicate itself pretty quick through the ranks of the public and private sectors.”
Bauer said the plan is to forge ongoing relationships with students as they make their way through college, giving them real world experiences and advice as they transition from academic to professional careers.
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