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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: October 5, 2016


NEW CASTLE (Oct. 5, 2016) - Today, Delaware launched a Million Women Mentors team, joining 36 other state teams in embracing a national movement to support women and girls pursuing and succeeding in Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf is the Honorary Chair and Jennifer Kmiec, founder of Inspiring Women in STEM, is the Million Women Mentors - Delaware Chair.

Million Women Mentors - Delaware has set a state goal of 2,000 STEM pledged mentors, both male and female, as part of the national goal of 1 million STEM mentoring relationships for girls and women by 2019. Nationally, more than 847,000 mentors have pledged already. Through the Million Women Mentors' website state teams work with individuals, corporations and organizations who pledge to mentor, and then connect them with girl- and women-serving organizations that are in need of mentors.

"Every day in the Department of Health and Social Services, I see the importance of STEM," Secretary Landgraf said. "I see it in our Public Health lab workers and doctors and nurses across the agency, to our staff people who use technology to analyze data at all levels of our enterprise. In order for Delaware and the rest of the country to better embrace a diverse workforce for today and to grow an even more diverse workforce of the future, we need to give back by mentoring girls and women in the STEM fields."

Today, the STEM workforce in the U.S. is about 76 percent male and 24 female, even though women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy. In 2015, about 20 percent of bachelor's degrees in engineering and 16 percent of those in computer science were earned by women, according to federal data. Those shares were each up two percentage points compared to five years earlier. The U.S. will need more STEM-oriented workers, with employment in that area projected to increase by 16 percent to more than 8.5 million jobs by 2020, according to a White House Council on Women and Girls report.

"Mentoring is a proven strategy to increase the number of high school girls and female college students in STEM fields of study, and the number of women opting for and staying in STEM careers," Kmiec said. "I applaud all the volunteer mentors for sharing their time to serve as positive role models for these young women."

Fifteen STEM champions are participating today in the national Million Women Mentors Summit and Gala in Washington, D.C. Delaware is one of the newest MWM state teams is represented by one of the largest delegations. As part of Delaware Innovation Week, Million Women Mentors - Delaware will launch its statewide mentor recruitment efforts at the Nov. 15 DE STEM Educator Awards and Inspiring Women in STEM Conference.

Joining DHSS and Inspiring Women in STEM as key organizations for MWM-DE are the Delaware STEM Council, the Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council and Global Delaware. In addition to Secretary Landgraf and Kmiec, members of the steering committee include:

NOTE TO MEDIA: To learn more about Million Women Mentors, go to: http://millionwomenmentors.org/

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.