where can I donate to support girls/women in STEM?
March 10, 2016 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Every year I make a donation in honor of my (deceased) mother's birthday. She was an outstanding scientist and teacher, won a bunch of mentoring awards, and helping women advance in STEM fields was important to her. I'm no longer able to donate to the organization I used in the past. Where should I send my money? (about $150).

My mom, who got her PhD in 1968, had to deal with some pretty explicit and ugly sexism over the years (like, when she was choosing a lab to do her dissertation work, she ensured that she would get her first choice advisor by ranking him along with 2 professors who she knew would not accept female grad students. Etc.) She dealt with it pretty adroitly and built an accomplished career before developing cancer and dying at 52. Along the way she won a bunch of teaching and mentoring awards, because she felt strongly that she herself was in the field because of some significant role models. (She was also a really great mom, but that's probably obvious from the fact that I'm asking this question).

Now that I am in my own STEM career, I like making a donation every year to celebrate her birthday. But I need a new donation target--the place I gave money before is sort of a location-specific thing and I've moved away.

I'd like to make a donation that supports STEM education, mentorship, or professional development for girls or young women, but I'm having trouble identifying particular targets. I'm sort of leaning toward the biological or health sciences but would be willing to expand to something like Girls Who Code if that seems like the best bet.

Any suggestions welcome!
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis to Education (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located now? I'm thinking something like a bursary for a nearby STEM-related after-school/summer camp program. The science summer camp I used to work for always had a few kids sponsored by local companies or individuals every year, and I always thought that was a great idea (immediate local impact, the kid(s) have a great time, and working parents get a break from having to find/pay for child care)

If there's a university nearby, it's likely they have something along these lines, and probably also have extra outreach resources for girls in particular (our camp had a special girls-only week, for instance).
posted by btfreek at 5:47 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Did your mother work in a specific field with professional organizations? I'm a geoscientist, but almost every single professional organization I belong to has some kind of or multiple program/grant/scholarships that support women in STEM to which one can make targeted donations. (Not only that, there's a professional org just for women geoscientists - you can view their support programs here; a typical one is something like this scholarship, which provides funds for women whose STEM degrees have been interrupted by significant life circumstances.)

Perhaps there are orgs in your mother's field with similar programs?

(And it's also obvious her legacy lives on in you!)
posted by barchan at 5:57 PM on March 10, 2016

The Society for Women Engineers did a lot of stuff in my area for high school and college students. There's also 4H, which is increasingly tech oriented.
posted by SMPA at 6:55 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

In these situations I usually recommend IGNITE: Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Education/Evolution. They do good work worldwide, and the founder is still very much involved in running the organization.
posted by seasparrow at 7:28 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fund Club
posted by mbrubeck at 8:09 PM on March 10, 2016

Athena is a San Diego-based organization that promotes the development of women to leadership roles in STEM. The scholarship program is local and the recipients get a lot of support and mentorship from women currently in STEM careers.
posted by 26.2 at 10:47 PM on March 10, 2016

Late last year the BBC did a trio of radio programmes entitled Young, Geeky and Black about organizations encouraging girls in STEM in Memphis, Tennessee, Accra, Ghana, and Kampala, Uganda.
posted by XMLicious at 12:32 AM on March 11, 2016

Ada Lovelace Day - there is a sponsorship programme but it's more aimed at big donors. At a smaller scale you can support it through Suw Charman-Anderson's patreon.
posted by crocomancer at 4:07 AM on March 11, 2016

Girls Who Code
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Barchan, it's funny, but I actually did look at her primary professional society and they do have some women's scholarship/fellowship/development stuff, but that section of the website appears to have been last updated in 2014. Buoyed by your encouragement, however, I've emailed them. Presumably the field has not solved all of its problems with institutionalized sexism nor become exclusively male in the last 2 years.

If that doesn't work out, I'll go with IGNITE.

Thanks everyone!
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:47 AM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Association for Women in Science? It's specifically for women in STEM.
posted by estelahe at 12:30 PM on March 11, 2016

Girl Scouts
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:21 AM on March 12, 2016

Is there a Graduate Women in Science chapter near you? My former chapter organizes lots of little events, including things like badge workshops for girl scouts, that could benefit from a donation on your scale. And if you're a working scientist who'd be willing to go speak with students at some point, they would probably love to have you!
posted by ecsh at 8:41 AM on March 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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