General Motors has entered a partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA to help encourage more girls to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) based careers.
The automaker has given the Girl Scouts of the USA a $1 million grant to develop STEM programming for its 1.7 million active members, according to The Detroit Free Press. The curriculum will also include automotive-specific sections that will enable girls to win car-themed badges if they perform well in them.
GM CEO Mary Barra said the changing landscape of the automotive industry means that companies like GM will have to diversify their workforces in the coming years.
“The auto world is considering how people move … and that is changing. We’re looking at different propulsion systems, ones that are friendlier to the environment,” Barra said. “We need more women who are studying STEM in school and in college because — we need you.”
Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and a former NASA engineer, joined Barra to make the announcement this week. A former NASA rocket engineer, Acevedo became interested in science and mathematics while she was in the Girl Scouts as a child and wants to ensure today’s children get the same or better opportunities.
“Engineering is a doorway to how you think about solving problems in the world,” Acevedo said in a statement. “I started off in manufacturing and the problem there was, how do you make systems more productive, more efficient and more effective.”
Barra herself was also a Girl Scout Brownie when she was a child and remembers being overjoyed when her father, a GM employee, would come home from work with the latest Chevrolet or Cadillac. She and her dad would also take apart car parts and other items in their basement together – an activity that Barra says helped foster her interest in engineering from a young age.
“My dad worked for GM for 39 years. He taught me the love of engineering and cars and my mom said, ‘Mary, you can do anything and be anything. You’ll have to work hard, but you can be anything you want to be,'” Barra said.
Girls interested in GM’s Girl Scouts of the USA STEM courses can inquire about the program through their local Girl Scouts troop.