The Founder and Executive Director of Rock The Street, Wall Street, Maura Cunningham, was invited to attend The White House Conference on Inclusive STEM Education on Oct. 28.

STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), experts, educators, students and community organizers who are trying to ensure greater access for marginalized youth, including girls and youth of color, were invited by The White House Council on Women and Girls.

Conference attendees exchanged ideas on how to offer a more robust system of exposure to get more women and minorities into jobs where they are currently few in number. This matters as the United States is losing two thirds of the job talent available for these jobs – women and people of color.

Panelists brought up the fact that college professors are OK with girls dropping out of majors involving STEM. The question was asked, “Why is that?” This laid back attitude on college campuses across the country contributes to the lack of women in STEM careers including the financial services industry.

There was genuine passion among the attendees that lent to the elevation of these issues and to proactively seeking ways to move toward solutions.

White House STEM Conference 2

Careers in STEM like engineering, tech and finance are tools that lift people out of poverty. If the underrepresented are unaware nor encouraged into these professions, their options throughout their lifetimes and the generations that come after them, may be more limited than if they had.

RTSWS aims to bring to light the opportunities in finance – both in improved financial literacy and in pursuing a profession in finance.  Our programs bring relevancy to the girls as to why they should want to learn finance to improve their lives, their families and their communities.

One student on the panel said he practiced being an engineer before studying it, which is what RTSWS’s programming does for girls: They get to practice being a financial planner for client Jane in our classroom workshops. And who better to teach them these skills than our female financial professionals from the financial services sector?

Conference panelists and attendees addressed negative stereotypes of women and minorities. They discussed how creating more public/private partnerships may help lead to a more diversified workplace. Oakland, Calif. Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson knew he could not move the needle on this issue without forming partnerships with STEM industry professionals, such as those at nearby Salesforce in San Francisco, CA.

RTSWS completely supports these types of public/private partnerships and looks forward to collaborating with financial industry leaders on getting more women in finance.

White House STEM Conference

Megan Smith, U.S Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, formerly with Google(X) Research Lab,  said partners are always needed to scale up.  She thanked everyone for their vigilance on the issue of diversity in STEM.