New STEM Initiative Brings in Diverse Array of Supporters

To draw more women into technical fields, the new IF/THEN campaign aims to highlight the reach of STEM fields beyond the usual areas. Its related coalition includes nontraditional organizations.

What do the Girl Scouts, the TV show Project Runway, The Ad Council, National Geographic, the National Retail Federation, U.S. Soccer, the toymaker GoldieBlox, and the actress Geena Davis have in common?

Each is throwing their support behind IF/THEN, a campaign that aims to close the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) gender gap with a little help from pop culture.

The campaign, spearheaded by the Colorado-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies, is being driven by a $25 million donation to the new initiative, which mixes traditional scientific groups with organizations that don’t traditionally have a strong focus on STEM issues. The idea? To underline the point that STEM is really everywhere.

Picture us as a talent agency for women in science.

The new campaign and its coalition (which is nearly 30 organizations strong at launch) wants to highlight how STEM influences entertainers, athletes, business leaders, and blockbuster movies—and that there are related career opportunities in all of these areas.

“Together with our coalition members, we believe that having diverse opinions around the table is key to building a more innovative future, and we want to truly shift our culture to encourage future generations of world-changers,” IF/THEN Cofounder and Lyda Hill Philanthropies President Nicole Small said in a news release.

The organization has strong association backing as well, with the American Association for the Advancement of Science helping to run an ambassador program that will draw attention to more than 100 women who work in a variety of STEM roles, including the nontraditional areas listed above.

So where does something like Project Runway fit in? Well, on top of the ambassador program, the organization will invest in creating content with entertainment industry partners. The more than 100 IF/THEN ambassadors will be able to take part in these content opportunities—one of which is an upcoming episode of the popular reality show.

“Picture us as a talent agency for women in science,” Small told the Dallas Morning News.

The new program is part of a $60 million overall investment in STEM by the philanthropic organization over a five-year period.

(Georgijevic/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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