Cathi Rodgveller is the Founder and CEO of IGNITE Worldwide, which works directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes STEM education and career advancement for girls and non-binary youth from historically marginalized communities. As a longtime educator and school counselor, Cathi witnessed the systemic obstacles girls face in accessing STEM pathways, especially girls from underserved communities. She founded IGNITE Worldwide in Seattle Public Schools over 20 years ago to bridge this gap and has grown the program to reach girls in over 100 US school districts and 50 countries, inspiring 80,000 girls to date.
Cathi received the 2012 Social Impact Abie Award from the Indiana Borg Institute, and IGNITE Worldwide has been lauded by the Department of Education, Department of State, and the National Science Foundation.
Although many school-going girls love STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and would love to venture into careers in these fields, few of them actually pursue those careers. The main reason behind this is that girls shy away from appearing smart in front of their peers and do not want to stand out.
This perception minimizes girls’ powers and abilities and ultimately limits their career prospects. This problem is common in many schools worldwide and not just in the US. To change the narrative, it is important to instill power, courage, and confidence in these girls at a young age. They need to know just how capable and talented they are, and receive the support they need to dream big, own their intelligence, and harness their full potential.
Cathi Rodgveller, the Founder and CEO of IGNITE Worldwide, is Andrea Heuston’s guest in this episode of the Lead Like A Woman Show where she talks about community and providing educational opportunities for girls and non-binary youth. Cathi discusses what STEM education means, explains what drove her to start IGNITE Worldwide, and talks about how she helps empower girls and achieve gender equity in STEM.
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