A recent win that showcases the power of women’s foundation to advance gender equity is the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s (WFMN) partnership with Best Buy to create pathways to careers in STEM for young women.
Through its teen tech centers, Best Buy is helping prepare youth for careers in STEM across the country – and that’s a good thing. Labor research shows that America is not ready to meet the tech-ready workforce needs of tomorrow. The same holds true in Minnesota.
What the Data Show
As the chart illustrates, young women are nearly absent from STEM occupations in Minnesota. Here, 80% of the STEM workforce (ages 23-25) is male, compared to 20% female (ages 23-25). And of that 20%, 14% are white and 5% Asian American and Pacific Islander. The big disparity: less than 1% of African American, African Immigrant, American Indian, and Latina young women are in STEM fields. (Source: American Community Survey, 2011-2015.)
This tells us that in Minnesota, young women, and particularly women of color, present our greatest opportunity for the strong, future STEM workforce we need — if we act now.
Innovative Solutions to Advance Gender Equity
We turned to Best Buy. The Minnesota-based, national tech retail giant is a key partner in the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN), our campaign to ensure all young women thrive in our state. We asked Best Buy what it could do in their sector to increase STEM outcomes for young women (a key recommendation of YWI MN) and proposed they add a gender lens to their teen tech center programming in Minnesota. They agreed.
In partnership with WFMN, Best Buy recently launched two teen tech centers with programming designed specifically for young women. Both centers, Brian Coyle Center and Hope Communities, are located in Minneapolis.
WFMN is thrilled to partner with Best Buy to build career pathways to STEM for young women in Minnesota. This innovation illustrates unique power of women’s foundations to use a collective impact model and model the application of a gender-race-place-equity lens to change systems and ensure gender and racial equity.