It’s been a banner year for The STEM-UP Network, a social enterprise powered by Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, which provides women in STEM with real-world strategies, relationships, and a strong community that support their ability to flourish, prosper and advance both personally and in their careers.
During the past year, The STEM-UP Network grew its base by nearly 400 members. It expanded its program reach to Philadelphia, where HU opened its new Philadelphia location in 2017, and the group and its executive director recently won two prestigious advocacy awards.
The STEM-UP Network received the 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. And Dr. Bili S. Mattes, Executive Director of the STEM-UP Network and Provost and Chief Academic Officer at HU, recently was named the 2018 Moxie Award Winner at the Women in Technology Awards presented by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania.
The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The STEM-UP Network is featured, along with 77 other recipients, in the September 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.
The Moxie Award recognizes a pioneer who has blazed the trail for other women in technology to follow. Dr. Mattes took home the award last month for blazing a trail for women as a founder, and executive director of the STEM-UP Network. The second award The STEM-UP Network recently was awarded will be announced publicly in mid-August.
“It’s great,” Dr. Mattes said of the recognitions. “We’ve been doing this for eight years and the reason we got into this work is because of the business case. Over 70 percent of jobs today require STEM skills, yet only 24 percent of the STEM workforce is made up of women who make up about half of the entire workforce. And we lose 50 percent of women professionals in STEM professions in the first 10 to 12 years. It affects business, and our ability to compete as a country and as a globe.”
During the past eight years, the STEM-UP Network leveraged a $750,000 National Science Foundation grant to deliver its programs and services across the region and in Philadelphia.
It offers a community-based and highly successful mentoring program, and it has established a variety of networking programs and services. For example, the Network offers leadership development programs for both early career, as well as more senior career, women.
The STEM-UP Network presents about three community forums each year that are focused on topics of importance and interest to women professionals in STEM. The group hosts executive retreats and holds a STEM career summit for women in Philadelphia, which allows employers to showcase their interesting and cutting-edge work in STEM.
In the short-term, The STEM-UP Network plans to start a Level-UP program in Central Pennsylvania for women in senior leadership positions, and continue to introduce programs in new areas, while growing its community thoughtfully, Dr. Mattes said.
The STEM-UP Network’s long-term goals are tied to its foundation: Move the needle so statistics change and show that women have made permanent gains in STEM professions, while thriving in the community.
“We’re talking with companies about how they can best participate in the Network. And with Universities about how they can use the STEM Up Network. We’re trying to launch a mentoring program in Philadelphia, and more. The beauty of all these programs in these communities is that they complement what other organizations and businesses are doing to support women professionals,” Dr. Mattes said. “The STEM-UP Network is becoming more and more recognized and the more that it is recognized, the more it comes into its own.”
About Harrisburg University
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Harrisburg University is a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology, and math fields. For more information on the University’s affordable demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, call 717.901.5146 or email, Connect@HarrisburgU.edu.