The young people that Women in Training, Inc. serves in its menstrual equity program grow up in poverty, as did their mothers and grandmothers before them. How can we end this cycle of generational poverty to finally put an end to period poverty? With that question in mind, we started the WIT Leadership Development Circle and the WIT Rites of Passage Circle.
In elementary school, girls and boys perform about equally in mathematics and science. By the junior and senior years of high school, the number of girls enrolled in advanced STEM courses drops. Although women make up about 50 percent of the American college-educated workforce, we represent only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation report that women make up only 15 percent of the engineering workforce and 24 percent of computer and information sciences professionals. While African Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, they make up only four percent of physicians, according to AthenaHealth. Black women represent only two percent of doctors.
We are focusing on STEM education for the Rites of Passage Circle. Careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are among the most lucrative in the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that STEM careers can pay twice the salary of non-STEM careers. A petroleum engineer could earn $150,000, compared to $60,000 for a high school teacher. But, how is it possible to be a doctor, engineer or IT professional without a strong background in math and science?
From May until September 2021, experts in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics will engage the WIT Rites of Passage "daughters" in hands-on STEM experiences.
In July 2022, we are taking members of the Rites of Passage Circle to Washington, D.C. for a weeklong exploration of STEM career opportunities.
The WIT Leadership Development Circle is for middle and high school girls of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds and gender orientations and identifications. The goal of this program is to develop a cohort of young women with a strong understanding of global issues, career options and a commitment to service.
The WIT Rites of Passage Circle provides cultural enrichment and personal development training to Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) middle school girls throughout Central Alabama. Our mission is to help girls develop confidence and a strong belief in themselves. Self confidence -- and reproductive knowledge -- are key to avoiding early pregnancy, a strong factor in school dropouts and a lifetime of poverty.