The Department of Commerce (DOC), in May 2019, held a meeting to determine the level of interest of a DOC group focused on women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The response was very enthusiastic with over 80 people attending the first meeting. It wasn’t long before the DOC Women in STEM (WSTEM) group was formed.
The mission of DOC WSTEM is to support and facilitate connections between DOC employees in order to resolve issues of concern to women in the department in STEM fields. The group started by laying the foundations with the goals they wanted to achieve. First, DOC WSTEM seeks to serve as a scientific and professional resource through the DOC offices and this is accomplished by opening up new channels of communication across the group. Offices can discuss and educate about technical and professional projects taking place across DOC. Second, DOC WSTEM wishes to encourage the promotion of federal technology transfer as part of DOC’s overall mission to stimulate the US economy. Finally, DOC WSTEM wants to promote interest in STEM and create a culture around the importance of STEM fields to women in all offices.
DOC WSTEM saw some highlights in 2020 as the group increased its membership. “Lunchtime Tech Talks” was created as a series of lunchtime hours during the work day. During each session, a DOC office would host a virtual webinar on a technology-related topic. This series provided a platform for the various offices to present topics they were currently engaged in and for the other offices to see what was happening across DOC. This program served to educate and inform participants, stimulate collaborative efforts within DOC, and further promote the mission of technology transfer. DOC WSTEM launched a LinkedIn page publish monthly professional development resources, such as trainings and news, thereby opening an outlet to encourage professional growth and awareness in the STEM community. The group developed “Send it On,” in which a message was posted daily throughout March (Women’s History Month) spotlighting a different woman in STEM to show her journey and her experiences. achievements. DOC WSTEM sought out game-changing women in STEM who paved the way for more women to earn STEM degrees. The overall goal was to primarily target teachers, students and parents to motivate and encourage greater pursuit of STEM careers.
With 2021, additional milestones have been reached within the group. DOC WSTEM has established the formation of seven subgroups: Community Connection, Networking, Information Sharing, Mentorship, Recruitment, Equity and Representation, Leadership. The recruiting subgroup created a membership database that provided the name, location, email address, and interests of each member. The mentoring sub-group matched 6 mentees with 6 mentors as part of a pilot DOC WSTEM mentoring program. The Community Connection sub-group has created an open communication channel allowing members to have discussions at any time. Looking at the new fiscal year, DOC WSTEM plans to continue to impact women in STEM and drive-up members to increase awareness of their message and mission in DOC offices. The group currently has 300 members, but wishes to encourage greater participation to continue fostering a community of cross-communication and promotion of STEM and technology transfer.