Girl in chemistry lab

The STEM of Sustainable Futures

Working together, Trane Technologies and Project Scientist are increasing access to STEM for girls with an aim to eliminate the STEM gender gap.

Economies around the world rely on the productivity, ingenuity and creativity of all their people. Yet women are being left behind in the economic-strengthening fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It’s akin to putting half of your available team on the field for a championship game - the odds of winning are substantially diminished.

Winning in our global context means overcoming the world’s biggest challenges; climate change and poverty, to name a few that are most pressing. The silver lining is that jobs in STEM directly contribute to our ability to solve these challenges for humanity. But until we include and empower everyone, we are leaving talent and innovative thinking behind and “fielding” half of our best and brightest.   

Putting girls in the game

Research shows girls with a high skill, aptitude and talent in STEM fields are not currently served or identified at a young age when career choices are being shaped. So, when businesswoman and mom, Sandy Marshall, sought to provide her own young daughter with science-based learning opportunities and found her options seriously lacking, she took matters into her own hands.

With a simple goal to teach girls about science in an experiential and fun way, Sandy invited five girls to join her daughter in a backyard hands-on science adventure. It was the start of Project Scientist, a STEM nonprofit organization that began small and quickly grew across the United States.

Today, Project Scientist is delivering high-quality STEM experiences and curriculum to more than 13,000 girls with the support of leading research institutions, universities and companies like ours. It has been, and continues to be, our honor to grow alongside Project Scientist, helping expand its impact with a three-year grant for $1 million. But more importantly, providing young minds access to our own STEM workplace and passionate employee volunteers as part of experiential learning programs like in-person Expeditions and Virtual STEM Labs.

Steve Hagood working with a project scientist student

Steve Hagood working with students at a Project Scientist event

Building dreams and a better future

The developing minds of children exposed to STEM education are not just learning new skills in problem solving, computational thinking and collaboration – they are absorbing the signals they see. That’s why just a glimpse of people, especially women, in STEM careers like a horticulturalist, wind engineer or climate controls designer can unlock new dreams for what they can be.

Project Scientist Graphic on Gender Perceptions by Age

Project Scientist girls show a positive increase in how they perceive women in STEM after participating in the program. (Source: 2020 Virtual Lab Impact Surveys and Report by Lunaria Solutions)

The skills learned through STEM education continue to influence jobs across the global economy, including green jobs that are in high demand across well-paid career fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, green jobs are looking like the place to be, with an outlook of 105% job growth between 2012 and 2026.  

At Trane Technologies, our purpose is to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world. Partnering with organizations like Project Scientist instills us with hope and optimism for a sustainable future. We never tire of seeing the look of wonder and awe on young girls’ faces as they watch a demonstration of water filtration systems or learn how solar ovens are making cooking possible in energy-impoverished parts of the world. Perhaps as exciting is the energy and feeling of purpose these interactions have on our own Trane Technologies family.

We exist to create scientists that will solve our world’s most pressing issues.

Sandy captures it well when she reflects on the essence of the Project Scientist mission, “We exist to create scientists that will solve our world’s most pressing issues.” It is this excitement and knowledge that we hope these future leaders will develop to go on and use STEM to save the planet.

Steve Hagood is senior vice president and chief information officer at Trane Technologies and is the current chair of Project Scientist’s Board of Directors.

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