LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles is home to one of the world’s fastest-growing and most dynamic tech and engineering sectors, and Mayor Eric Garcetti launched a new effort today — WiSTEM L.A. — to ensure that young women are equitably included in these promising industries.
WiSTEM connects young women with mentors in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, where women have been chronically and historically underrepresented. More than 600 people registered to attend the kick off.
“While women suffer from lost opportunity, the technology industry suffers from lost ingenuity,” said Mayor Garcetti. “WiSTEM is designed to close the gender gap in one of our City’s fastest growing industries. Because in Los Angeles, we cannot stay stuck in the past in fields that are meant to shape our future.”
The Initiative will consist of three primary programs in its pilot year:
- College-to-professional mentorship matchmaking, which will pair 150 community college, university, and graduate school students majoring in STEM disciplines with women in a variety of STEM-driven industries;
- Professional networking events for women across STEM industries, featuring conversations with Ladies Get Paid on achieving pay equity, and increasing female representation on boards and positions of leadership. The first WiSTEM L.A. networking event will be held in February 2019 at WiSTEM partner Cross Campus in Downtown L.A.
- Site tours at STEM-focused nonprofits, so that young women get firsthand experience at some of LA's most exciting companies.
Startups in the U.S. are ahead of the curve in cutting edge technology, but fall far behind when it comes to gender and pay equity. An estimated 70 percent of tech jobs in Los Angeles go to men, and across California, women account for less than a quarter of the STEM workforce. That ratio is unacceptable.
In partnership with Ladies Get Paid and L.A.-based company Introdeck, WiSTEM L.A. connects girls with women across STEM specialties and professions to create a community that encourages interest in STEM among younger women, and persistence in STEM for college students and professionals.
"Finding out that 60% of today's college graduates are women, yet less than 22% make it past middle management, shocked me into starting Ladies Get Paid,” said Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid. “Given how systemic and entrenched workplace inequity is, many of us feel helpless that as individuals, we can't affect change. We can and we will. We're so excited to partner WiSTEM L.A. Initiative to help women recognize their value so they can best advocate for themselves at every level throughout their careers."
Matchmaking for the WiSTEM L.A. mentorship program is facilitated by Introdeck, a web-based platform powered by IBM Watson. Formal matching will begin in October, with mentorship beginning in November. Mentors and mentees will be paired for one year, and commit to monthly check-in’s by phone or video conference, and quarterly in-person meetings.
“The team from Introdeck is excited to be a part of the program to match our young women with mentors in learning to become the next generation of STEM leaders,” said Introdeck co-founder Cindy Huang.
“Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of scientists who looked anything like me,” said Bianca Ortega, a sophomore at East L.A. College. “The WiSTEM L.A. initiative caught my attention because its key ambition is to empower and propel young women like myself to wholeheartedly and actively seek a profession in the science fields.”
Another sponsor, Ernst & Young LLP (EY), has long worked to accelerate women’s progress in the workplace through their Women Fast Forwardplatform, and has joined with organizations like STEM Advantage, Junior Achievement, and Girls Who Code to advance women and girls in the field of technology.
“Our support of WiSTEM is an important investment in the future leaders of tomorrow,” said Pat Niemann, Greater Los Angeles Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP. “Diverse thinking and STEM skills are critical in today’s Transformative Age, and companies that don’t embrace them will be left behind.”
“Equity, diversity, and inclusion have been core values for Kaiser Permanente since our very beginning. The great work we do each day to make lives healthier would not be possible without our diverse workforce and the women of Kaiser Permanente serving in critical roles," said Julie Miller-Phipps, Southern California regional president for Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals. "The WiSTEM L.A. Initiative will enable us to connect with and support the next generation of women leaders in healthcare and health delivery, and we are proud to partner with Mayor Garcetti to launch WiSTEM L.A."
To learn more about WiSTEM L.A. programming and events, visit the official website at www.lamayor.org/wistem.
WiSTEM L.A. Sponsors and Additional Partners
Corporate sponsors include: Kaiser Permanente, EY, Jones Day, Verizon, Cedars-Sinai, CA Technologies, and Lyft.
Academic partners include: USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, LMU, Occidental College, CSUN, CSULA, East L.A. College, West LA College, and LA City College.
Other industry partners include: SpaceX, JPL, VNTANA, Sidebench, Emblematic Group, Two Bit Circus Foundation, Science 37, Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, and Biocom L.A.
Introdeck is a smart platform for matching and connecting people to resolve issues. The product's focus is to become the premier algorithm for creating positive and productive task-related partnerships. Introdeck is a product of the MentorMint company.
About Ladies Get Paid
Ladies Get Paid is a powerful online and offline destination and community committed to giving women the tools they need to succeed at work. Their mission is to empower women to harness their professional ambitions and be proactive in their careers.