Girls Action Network, Inc. (“GAN”) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping middle school and high school girls—with special emphasis on those from underserved communities—become the best they can be. Through participation in innovative learning experiences with particular focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), self-awareness assessments, educational activities and mentoring, GAN encourages girls to shatter the stereotypes that limit their career options and enables them to explore their opportunities and guide their own direction toward vocational and personal success.
GAN works in several ways:
- administering comprehensive technology-based and human-facilitated instruments to assess the vocational aspirations, skills and abilities of GAN participants; helping each girl develop her individual educational and career plan;
- nurturing the GAN Champion for Empowerment and Opportunity® mentors (“CEOs”) network;
- collaborating with partner/affiliate organizations and programs in which GAN girls can participate to broaden their cultural, educational and vocational awareness.
After mentoring girls in middle and high schools for over 15 years, I was troubled by a disturbing trend affecting young women. I consistently observed that young girls lacked access to information about traditional and nontraditional career opportunities and the related educational paths.
These observations were supported by the findings of the U.S. Congress in the Getting Our Girls Ready for the 21st Century Bill, H.R. 1536. In H.R. 1536, Congress found the following: (i) early career exploration is key to choosing a career; (ii) stereotypes about appropriate careers for females and a lack of basic career information significantly deter girls’ interest in mathematics, science, engineering and technology careers; and (iii) limited access is a hurdle faced by females seeking jobs in mathematics, science, engineering and technology.
Based upon my experiences and research findings, I concluded that greater steps needed to be taken to increase the number of: (i) students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM fields”); (ii) female students choosing occupations in these STEM fields; and (iii) workforce-ready graduates for the 21st century labor market who reflect a diversity of aptitudes and cultural perspectives, and who possess a personal foundation to contribute in a global society. I decided that possible solutions to address these multi-faceted issues should focus on the family, the community, the education system, businesses and different levels of government. My response was to create the non-profit organization called Girls Action Network, Inc. (“GAN”).
GAN’s long-term goals are to empower girls to shatter stereotypes and expand their opportunities through programs and services that can be replicated where there is a need. We aim to develop a diverse pool of human capital and motivated leaders for corporations, civic organizations and the community. Moreover, given the many outstanding and existing organizations whose missions serve at cross-sections to its efforts, GAN strives to serve as the connector among them, focusing on collaborative partnerships and associations.
As I witness GAN’s efforts dedicated volunteers serving students who participate in career exploration activities; students working with Champions for Empowerment and Opportunity® (“CEOs”) mentors and traveling to institutions of higher learning to become the best they can be; and stakeholders coming together to discuss the issues — I realize that we can all make a difference if we take action and work together.
In closing, I ask you to continue to share your thoughts and comments with us on how we can make GAN’s vision become a lasting reality. On behalf of Girls Action Network, I appreciate your visit to our website.
Elisa Basnight, Esq.