Each month we will share an interview with a STEM for Her board member to provide a glimpse into our organization, why we think it’s a great cause, and what you can do to help us!
Dede Haskins is currently the Chair of the Honorary Board for STEM for Her and most recently worked as an independent consultant for some of the area’s fastest growing companies. Dede’s efforts for STEM for Her started with Women in Technology (WIT). After serving as the Chair of Membership for two years starting in 2001, she became President Elect for WIT in 2003, and then President of WIT in 2004 and 2005. In 2008, Dede became the Chair of STEM for Her (it had spun off from WIT in 2003).
Early on in her career at two government contracting firms, Dede noticed the lack of women around her. Throughout her career she was always one of the only women in senior management meetings. Dede realized the magnitude of the problem when she realized that although companies were willing to hire women, there were relatively few available. The magnitude of her network needed to recruit more women to improve the companies where she worked. As the company she was working for in 2001 was about to be bought, Dede realized she needed to network even more for herself. She received an invitation to WIT’s executive women’s monthly event from WIT’s president elect. After attending the event, Dede found a new volunteer opportunity as Chair of Membership for WIT.
Joining WIT with 347 members, her team’s efforts grew the organization to over 700 members within the next two years. During that time, she learned that 15 years earlier American universities graduated virtually the same number of men and women with computer science degrees. But during those years, the rate of women graduating with that degree dropped to 18 percent. In Dede’s experiences working with software development teams, the best software solutions came from multi-gender, diverse teams with a wide variety of backgrounds. The data demonstrated why the companies she was working for were having so much difficulty hiring diverse teams.
The only way to fix the problem was to work harder to encourage girls to pursue technology-related educations and careers. WIT’s Girls in Technology team were working on this, but the effort needed to be deeper and broader. Thus, WIT launched a foundation called Women in Technology Education Foundation. Over time, it became clear that the problem was broader than only technology, so in 2015 the organization was renamed STEM for Her.
Dede hopes that funding provided by STEM for Her can encourage girls and woman from age 12-25 to get interested in STEM fields, pursue relevant college degrees, and then launch successful STEM-related careers. Coming back to close the circle, WIT will then support those women throughout their careers as they advance to well-paid senior positions and board memberships.
As the Chair of the Honorary Board, Dede is gathering a board of corporate senior executives who donate $5,000 a year and help speed up the expansion of offerings to fund schools or community programs that help middle school through college students across the entire DC Metro area, encouraging them to learn more about STEM.
If you would like to join us to help girls and women in the greater Washington D.C. area explore careers in STEM, be sure to visit www.stemforher.org for more information on our programs. There are two very important ways you can help:
- Financial Support: Your donations help STEM for Her meet our vision by funding STEM programs. We seek to use our funds to have the maximum amount of impact on the largest number of girls in our area.
- Volunteer: Our organization comprises only volunteers. We have a volunteer board and a number of committees covering every function from fundraising, programs, and research. We are always looking to build a group of participants, speakers, and mentors.
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