This piece appeared in the December newsletter produced by the National Girls Collaborative Project. Find out more about their Program Directory of organizations and programs that focus on motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
NGCP Champions Board members are selected to provide the NGCP with a balance of expertise and regional representation. We highlight Champions Board members to inspire and inform your work to engage girls in STEM. This month we feature Barbara Gault, VP and Executive Director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
What excites you most about your work? I love that I get to do research designed to support social change. I have always enjoyed the research process: identifying important questions that haven’t been answered, designing relevant methods, and getting results. It is even more gratifying when our studies inform new policies or programs, such as new laws requiring employers to provide workers with paid sick leave that have passed in a number of cities and states around the country. I met a woman at a conference recently who said that our report, about welfare recipients in higher education, motivated her to go to college and she carries the study with her on her smart phone. Times like that make me glad to be doing science in an applied setting. I am lucky to have a job where I am always learning about new issues, and collaborating with brilliant new partners, who are committed to a positive vision for the future.
What do you most appreciate in a collaborator? There are all kinds of qualities that contribute energy to a collaboration. Nobody possesses them all. I appreciate a sense of humor, an optimistic attitude, authenticity, passion, a willingness to learn from mistakes, openness, humility, accountability, a growth mindset, skills of all kinds, and intellect. Every collaboration brings a different mix, which is what makes it so interesting! Part of the joy is learning about the gifts and talents of others, picking up new skills along the way, making new friends, and celebrating your accomplishments together.
What advice would you give to the NGCP community? I would encourage our NGCP community to take some risks together, and to be a little noisier, more demanding, and more creative about ensuring that girls, and especially low-income girls and girls of color, have more opportunities to immerse themselves in STEM. We need to inspire more energized commitment to speeding the pace of change, especially in computer IT. Together we can hold schools, colleges, businesses, and other employers and the media accountable for making progress toward gender and racial/ethnic equality in STEM.