My parents were both in the civil engineering field, a traditionally male-dominated career when I was growing up. My dad was the one who actually helped my mom start her career in that field shortly after they met, providing her the initial mentoring and training to get her off the ground. I remember hanging around their office as a kid, the smell of blueprints in the air, and the most amazing computers that let me reproduce my coloring books larger than life. My grandparents never held either of my parents to gender stereotypes, and they passed that gift along to me and my siblings.
My parents did not constrain my play to gender appropriate toys, never told me what I could or couldn’t be when I grew up, always pushed me academically, and have never coached me to fulfill any stereotypically female roles. What I wanted to be when I grew up changed weekly (botanist, marine biologist, photographer, singer), but my parents’ support never faltered. It made for an incredible experience that enabled me to be the successful career woman, wife, mother, and student I am today. I didn’t realize the value of this gift until long after I entered the workforce.
My experience is one too many children do not have today, even with how far equality has come; both genders are influenced by stereotypes either by society and media, or sometimes by their family and trusted adults. Specific to women, the statistics show there is still a gap in the number of women pursuing educations and careers in STEM fields that will be integral to forwarding the leaps in technology and science predicted in my lifetime.
The question becomes, how do we continue to close this gap and embrace the next industrial revolution imposed by technology and data? Lewis Fowler’s commitment to the community includes finding ways to promote education and career development in STEM fields. With 50% of our leadership team being women, we are passionate about programs that support the growth and development of girls in these fields. So when an opportunity to support Girls Inc.’s My Bold Future event arrived, we adamantly said yes!
The inaugural event was held on May 12th to celebrate the success of the Girls, Inc. program, and to award $65,000 in scholarships to a few of their exceptional girls. Girls Inc. is a non-profit organization focused on empowering girls to achieve their dreams through mentoring, education and support that challenges them to move beyond status quo and stereotypes. Their focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and Economic Literacy is a strong tie to Lewis Fowler’s community commitment and advocacy for women in leadership. Amy Fowler Stadler, Managing Partner, is a past Girls Inc of Metro Denver board member and continues to support the program annually.
During the event, we heard incredible stories of girls who would be the first in their family to graduate from high school or college, and of one girl who is shedding the constraints of family abuse and immigration to pursue her dream of being a pediatrician. Incredible and remarkable stories of young women whose parents recognized the value of Girls Inc. early in their lives, and the results are strong, smart and bold women unafraid to chase their dreams. Our team was simply moved by these stories.
The event was successful in helping Girls Inc. reach their fundraising goal of $100,000 to support the sustainment and growth of their program for this year and beyond, and with the scholarships they award. My personal wish is that it continues to empower girls to reach for their dreams, shedding their fears through support and education through their childhood challenges, enabling a generation of fearless women that cure diseases, break down social and political barriers, drive successful companies, and lead the changes the world needs to embrace the future.