Know an amazing local non-profit (like Rosie Riveters)? Nominate them to be featured here!
Founded in 2015, Rosie Riveters is a Northern Virginia nonprofit that equips and empowers preschool through middle-school aged girls from diverse backgrounds to be strong, confident, and confident in STEM. The organization’s free, community-based afterschool and weekend programs instill a growth mindset via STEM projects that don’t come with instructions or pre-selected materials; instead, participants build using trial and error and an example as a guide.
The entire process encourages imagination and creativity, and prioritizes learning from failure – skills that are essential to STEM, but are also useful in any field or career, and life in general. Rosie girls, as the organization affectionately dubs its participants, have the confidence to try anything, and embrace the idea that although they might not always get it right, they’ll always learn.
Sounds amazing right? It gets better – Rosie Riveters is entirely female run; all of its employees and members of the board of directors are women! As our August local, non-profit of the month, we asked Rosie Riveters’ External Affairs Director, Katie Rieder, three questions.
Here’s Our Q&A:
How did Rosie Riveters get started?
Brittany Greer, the founder and executive director of Rosie Riveters, was inspired to start our organization after working at the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). Tasked with getting more women involved at the leadership level, Greer realized that the problem with the STEM pipeline started much earlier than high school and college, when most programs for young women in STEM begin. Rather, in order to get women into STEM boardrooms, C-suites, and tenured professorships, girls needed to be engaged as early as preschool. Greer brought together a wide-ranging group of professionals (we met in an Arlington, VA moms group!) to get the organization off the ground, and we’ve been thriving ever since.
Why is it so important for girls to be involved in STEM?
The obvious answer is that the field is currently biased toward men, and overwhelmingly so – women make up only 28% of the science and engineering workforce in the U.S. Real innovation and problem solving for the entire population can’t happen unless women are serving integral roles in that process.
Girls also face a double-bind when it comes to STEM. Research has shown that a growth mindset and supportive spaces that build confidence are essential for young women’s engagement with the field, yet most girls experience the exact opposite as they move through elementary school. Many develop a fixed mindset, and girls as early as age six begin to undergo a devastating confidence drop, particularly when comparing their inherent intelligence to that of boys (check out Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code for more on fixed mindsets, confidence, and women – there’s also a version geared towards young girls!). It’s imperative that we nurture confidence and a growth mindset in girls as early as possible in order to make STEM and all the innovations it fosters more representative, and that’s exactly what Rosie Riveters is working to do.
How do I encourage my child in STEM?
Whether you have boys or girls, welcome the whys! One of the books Rosie Riveters loves best, Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beatty paints the picture so well. Ada’s parents are about to lose their minds due to the frequency with which she asks why, and we have so been there as parents too (sidenote: Ada Twist, Scientist is becoming an animated kids show on Netflix, and premieres September 28th!). But it’s important to encourage curiosity while simultaneously providing your kids with the tools to answer their own questions. Google is your friend, and have kids do as much of their own research as their age and learning level will allow. Embrace the mess of experimentation and inquiry that follows, and know that you’re providing your kids with tools that will help them no matter what they decide to be when they grow up.
There’s still time to catch our summer activities – a geocaching adventure in Old Town and Arlington with a STEM twist (ends Sunday 8/15), and a summer reading program geared toward girls ages four to fourteen. They’re both free and each one has prizes! We also feature STEM projects to do at home, book recommendations, interviews with real women in STEM – you name it, we have it. And if you’re interested in our programs, it’s the best way to get info about registration. If you’re a military-affiliated family, we have a free program coming up this fall via our partnership with Blue Star Families!
There are lots of other great online STEM resources too – some of our favorites are Bedtime Math (check out the app!), Story Time From Space, and Bring Science Home, the kid-driven education portion of Scientific American’s website.
The Washington, DC area has so many amazing Non-profits that impact our community in a meaningful way. We love to feature these local Non-Profits monthly as a way to connect them with Moms in our community. Do you have a local Non-Profit you love? Nominate them HERE!