Building the STEM Workforce of the Future: “Dream Big” Initiative Provides Girls Pathways to In-Demand Careers and Bridges Gender Gap in STEM Fields
COLUMBUS — An effort to build the STEM workforce of the future is one step closer to reality today.
Ohio business leaders and public officials, including Franklin County Commissioner Erica Crawley, joined Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland (GSOH) this morning for a groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of construction on the new STEM Leadership Center & Maker Space. Powered by Girl Scouts, the “Dream Big” Initiative will help propel girls into STEM fields by allowing them to unleash their curiosity and cultivating next-generation innovators.
“Women have remained underrepresented in STEM fields, but Girl Scouts are creating a paradigm shift,“ said Tammy Wharton, president & chief executive officer, GSOH. “Through this project, Camp Ken-Jockety is transforming into a STEM and In-Demand Jobs immersive campus. It will become a place of unlimited possibilities, where girls can learn in-demand skills, participate in cutting-edge programs, and lay the foundation for a better economic future.”
Construction is expected to take place over the next 12 months. BBCO is the project architect, and CK Construction serves as construction manager.
Launched in May 2022, the Dream Big project includes:
• A new STEM Leadership Center with community space, science and technology labs.
• A Maker Space to learn trade skills like welding, mechanics and carpentry.
• A new greenhouse for gardening programs including hydroponics.
• Renovations to the Environmental Center to include the addition of a teaching kitchen for farm-to-table programming.
• Outdoor learning spaces.
The immersive, 220-acre campus will make a broad impact as a community resource for youth and community stakeholders across Ohio. It will be available to schools, other non-profits, and community partners.
The Bold Goal
Dream Big is the local commitment supporting the Girl Scouts of the USA’s bold goal of putting 2.5 million girls in the STEM pipeline by 2025. Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce yet are drastically underrepresented in many fields including STEM, in-demand jobs, and leadership roles. For example:
• Just 18 percent of STEM leadership roles are held by women.
• Women represent 15 percent of engineers and architects.
• Only 12 percent of computer science degrees are earned by women.
GSOH has teamed with community partners to make the $16 million Dream Big project a reality. More than $12 million (80 percent of the goal) has been raised to date. GSOH has secured funding from local companies, including major gifts from Battelle, American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide Foundation. The project also received state capital support.
A True Community Partnership
Leaders from across the region have banded together behind the Dream Big mission. Dream Big Honorary Co-Chairs include Lou Von Thaer, president and CEO, Battelle Memorial Institute; Yvette McGee Brown, partner, Jones Day; and Lori Gillett, CEO, CK Construction.
In addition, Honorary Champions, include Mary Auch, regional president, PNC Bank, Columbus; Marilyn Brown, former Franklin County commissioner; Erica C. Crawley, Franklin County commissioner; Rhoe Fields, AVP, community relations at Bath & Body Works Foundation; Alex Fischer, former president and CEO, Columbus Partnership; Wes Hall, vice president of philanthropy and education, Battelle Memorial Institute; Lisa Hinson, president and founder, Hinson Ltd Public Relations; Michele Holcomb; Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, president, The Ohio State University; Darla King, president, King Business Interiors, Inc.; Gale King, former executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Nationwide Insurance; Cameron Mitchell, founder and CEO, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (CMR), LLC; Karen Morrison, president, OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president, OhioHealth Corporation; Natasha Pongonis, CEO, O.Y.E. Business Intelligence; Julie Sloat, president and CEO, American Electric Power; Barb Smoot; president and CEO Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD); Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former astronaut and administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Dr. Ann Teske, healthcare educator administrator; and Katherine Zehnder, vice president, HNTB.
“Gender equality in STEM education will help ignite economic growth in Franklin County and beyond, and the Dream Big initiative is an important step forward,” said Erica Crawley, Franklin County Commissioner. “All children deserve to see themselves as scientists, mathematicians, and leaders. Girl Scouts empowers our girls to envision a better future and creates opportunities for them to dream even bigger.”
For more information on Dream Big, visit gsoh.org/dreambig.