The tech giant and female enrichment group go together like milk and cookies when helping underserved communities gain access to STEM

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula are becoming more and more prevalent these days, especially in our area. The reason behind this shift in education is due in large part to the automation and virtualization of our lives and our jobs.

For instance, in several years our society likely will no longer have a use for today’s 3.5 million truck drivers due to the impending actualization of self-driving technology. When that happens, where will those 3.5 million truck drivers go? The answer is that they will likely have to fill the very roles that build and maintain the technologies that made them obsolete to begin with.

Google and the Girl Scouts of Western Washington realize how important STEM training is, and even more importantly, they are eager to inspire girls in underrepresented communities to pursue careers in STEM.

In western Washington, 10 percent of students earning STEM degrees are underrepresented minorities in areas where economic status may prevent students from participating in STEM programs like the Washington FIRST Robotics League. Additionally, women in Washington earn STEM degrees at one-third of the rate of men.

To combat this conundrum, Google.org is providing $50,000 to help augment 25 percent of program fees for girls’ robotics teams in South King County, Skagit, and Cowlitz counties where communities are historically underserved when it comes to STEM programming.

“These students are inspiring,” Darcy Nothnagle, Google’s head of external affairs for the Northwest, said in a statement. “We are delighted to be involved in a compelling program that provides opportunities and inspiration to girls to help bridge the STEM gap.”

To celebrate the announcement of this grant, more than 80 5th- through 9th-grade Girl Scouts — including Eastside teams Fll All Stars, Green Jelly Beans, Bearded Pineapples, and FTC Bellevue — joined State Representative Nicole Macri at Google’s Fremont Campus on Nov. 10 to demonstrate the progress they’ve made on their robots, participate in a STEM activity, and get a tour of Google’s campus.

To learn more about the program, visit Girl Scouts of Western Washington online.

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