Verizon Foundation Awards Grant to Tufts University to Engage More Girls in Engineering

Although job generation is a national challenge, businesses continue to seek more qualified applicants to fill available engineering jobs.

Only 11.5 percent of all engineers in the U.S. are women, according to the National Science Foundation, and business leaders say it is critical that more young women consider a career in engineering to help bridge the gap.

The Verizon Foundation is enabling Tufts University's Center for Engineering and Education Outreach to help attract more girls to the field of engineering.  The foundation has provided a $60,000 grant to support a program that will provide fourth- and fifth-grade teachers and students in the Boston, Medford and Somerville public schools with more training and tools for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

The grant will enable teachers to attend an engineering-focused professional-development workshop in the summer, support classrooms with undergraduate fellows who will provide students with engineering role models, and offer scholarships to girls to attend a STEM-focused summer camp.

"Students' attitudes toward math and science, and their images of scientists and engineers, are factors that determine persistence in STEM fields," said Chris B. Rogers, director of the Tufts University Center for Engineering and Education Outreach (www.ceeo.tufts.edu). 

"It is important to reach students early in their education by providing them with positive learning experiences and role models that improve the odds of them pursing STEM careers.  The goal of this program is to increase persistence in STEM education and career paths for female students," Rogers said.

Research from education experts shows that the pre-middle-school years are a formative period for children because it is when they develop conceptions of themselves as students and of areas of study, both of which tend to stay consistent throughout their education.

"At Verizon, we believe strongly in providing students with the tools to succeed in higher education and future careers," said Jeannie Diefenderfer, senior vice president of customer care and operations for Verizon and member of Tufts University's Board of Trustees.  "Teachers need more resources to prepare students for our fast-paced, technology-rich world, and students need role models who can help guide them into the future.  As a leading technology company, we understand the need for more qualified engineers, scientists and technologists, and we are eager to help ensure more young people are prepared to participate in the global economy," Diefenderfer said.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. In 2010, the foundation awarded nearly $67 million to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered nearly 6 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 94.1 million customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 194,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.