Kids have awesome imaginations. They transform wood chips into cakes, couches into cars and boxes into castles (that you may or may not be invited to enter).
So when a group of young girls drew what they imagined a scientist looked like, the Green Works® team was surprised that nearly all drew men. Asked why, one girl responded, “Because I’m flipping through pages in my science book, and I’m not seeing that many girl scientists.”
STEM is growing, but not for all
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs are projected to be the fastest growing professions over the next decade, yet students drop off at every level of the STEM education pipeline, particularly girls and children from low-income households. According to the National Math and Science Initiative, 48 percent of all workers are women, yet just 23 percent are in STEM-related fields.
Fortunately, things look much different at Clorox. Women comprise 49 percent of our Research and Development team, and one of our top holders of patents, including a few for our Green Works® technology, is a woman: Maria Ochomogo.
“That’s one of the things I love about Clorox — there are as many women scientists as there are men scientists working here,” Maria says.
Given how important science and technology are to our innovation strategy, we’re investing time, talent and money to keep STEM growing in the next generation of innovators. This year, The Clorox Company Foundation awarded two major grants: $75,000 to Techbridge and $50,000 to Community Resources for Sciences (CRS).
“We want to make sure there’s a good pipeline of STEM talent out there,” says Nichelle Rachal, Community Relations senior consultant. “We work closely with both these groups to help provide ‘hands-on’ experiences and give students opportunities to see professionals they can relate to.”
Giving children a chance to “do science”
Techbridge provides after-school and summer programs for fifth through 12th grade girls that encourage STEM-career exploration through hands-on projects, field trips and a supportive network of peers, teachers and mentors. CRS also takes a hands-on approach, encouraging teachers to give students more opportunities to “do science” — to ask questions, test ideas, get their hands on real science activities. Among the many resources it provides, CRS connects teachers with local scientists, including Clorox’s Science Education Volunteer Team.
“We go to many schools in the East Bay and do science experiments and education for students,” scientist Jon Weisman says. “We teach them that science and careers in science are accessible to anyone. All that’s required is passion!”
Encouraged by the California team, the Metro Atlanta team took its expertise out on the road, too.
“We focus on inspiring enthusiasm and developing proficiency among Georgia youth through classroom visits, STEM fairs and the Atlanta Science Festival,” says Danielle Freeman, manufacturing resource manager in Kennesaw, Georgia. “We do demonstrations, lead panels and generally show kids that STEM is cool.”
In just two years, the Atlanta volunteers have worked with 71,150 children. The benefits of such encounters extend beyond science. Teachers report that students who are otherwise struggling often are transformed when science visitors present a lesson. Such moments show teachers a new way to engage these kids by adding more science activities and content.
Green Works® Natural Potential campaign
We’ve also created the Green Works® Natural Potential campaign to get the next generation excited about science. The brand supports the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. AAUW members are participating in social media activities that encourage moms and daughters to stick with STEM. We also created a video with Maria Ochomogo and are developing a partnership that will provide access to fun STEM resources.
So far, the campaign’s off to a great start. A hosted Twitter question-and-answer session with AAUW has already garnered over 2.6 million impressions, and the video has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
“We knew that 85 percent of moms want a company to support a cause, and the top three causes millennial moms care about are children, women/girls’ issues and education,” says Sacha Connor, associate brand director. “The Green Works line was created after Maria’s daughter pushed her to think of new ways to use natural ingredients to create cleaning products. The Girls in Science campaign links to the Green Works product promise through the idea that when you nurture natural potential, powerful things happen.”