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Museum of Discovery, Wal-Mart Partner to Promote Mentors for Women in STEM

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The Museum of Discovery and the Arkansas STEM Coalition are partnering with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville to introduce “Million Women Mentors” in central Arkansas.

Million Women Mentors matches professional men and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers with girls in middle school, high school and college.

“The goal is just to help girls and young women understand the possibilities for careers in STEM fields and try to address the gap we have in overall number of jobs that are going to be open and the very small percentage of women represented in those jobs,” Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass said.

The program will begin with a kickoff event at 10 a.m. Friday, April 22, at the Ron Robinson Theater in the Arcade Building in Little Rock.

Wal-Mart is leading the Arkansas initiative, and the Museum of Discovery and Arkansas STEM Coalition are assisting with the central Arkansas rollout.

Arkansas is the 31st state to officially launch Million Women Mentors. The program began Feb. 2 with a kickoff event in Bentonville. The April 22 event will be similar but focused on central Arkansas.

The goal is for the state to have 5,000 mentors involved in the program by 2018.

At the April 22 event, attendees will get a detailed overview of the Million Women Mentors program and a playbook on how to participate in the program. Attendance does not obligate participation.

Bass said the museum will offer group activities for the mentors and mentees. Mentors are expected to spend two hours per month with their students.

“Women have the same aptitudes that men have,” Bass said. “It’s not important to the jobs as much as it’s important to the women to just realize that they don’t need to eliminate these [STEM] career opportunities as potential careers for them.”

At the event, Bass will talk about the museum and Andrea Roberts, senior manager of talent strategy at Wal-Mart, will go through the nuts and bolts of the program. First Lady Susan Hutchinson, a former science teacher, will also speak, along with Dr. Roxanne Townsend, CEO of UAMS Medical Center.

Professional interested in mentoring can sign up at any time. The event in Little Rock will provide more information for those interested and is intended for potential mentors.

“Eventually we’re going to get to the point where girls don’t feel like they’re not supposed to be right in the trenches doing calculus and differential equations and physics and chemistry the same as guys,” Bass said. “They’re just as good at it as boys and every test proves it … I think everybody needs to understand that there should be no gender walls on any careers.”

For more information about Million Women Mentors or to sign up to be a mentor visit the program website.

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