Nonprofit Madison wants to change the face of STEM

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The nonprofit Maydm recently received a $300,000 Fair Recovery Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Administration to inspire young women of color to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Maydm stands for “made by them” and it’s an organization that wants to break down the barriers that keep young black women and men from pursuing their STEM dreams.

Fourth-grader Gloria McKinney De Royston attended the “Black Girl Magic Saturday” workshop to learn how technology works in the fashion industry.

Gloria has lots of ideas for improving the STEM industry.

“I like to do a lot of digital art,” Gloria said. “One of my personal goals in life is fashion design. To make clothes for everyone and then everyone wears them.

Maydm executive director and computer science professor Dr. Christina Outlay worries that young girls like Gloria are losing their passion due to the lack of diversity in the STEM industry.

“They’re losing interest,” Dr. Outlay said. “Either they think technology or STEM fields are not for them at all. Either they think they’re very tough or they don’t see representation and so it’s not something they’re motivated to pursue.

She said Maydm organized the technology workshop on Saturday to inspire young girls and, in turn, improve the STEM business.

“Research shows that diverse teams are more productive,” Dr. Outlay said. “They generally produce a better product that can serve a wider audience and so there is a direct practical and financial incentive for companies to have more diverse teams.”

She said the benefit goes both ways.

“There’s the opportunity to get into fashion or art or other types of things and get into a technical field where jobs are plentiful, career growth is amazing and salaries are incredible,” said Dr. Outlay.

She tries to expose students to STEM opportunities that encourage them to think creatively.

“I have so many ideas that I want to think it’s just an explosion,” Gloria said. “Do not hesitate !”

Maydm hosts summer programming events where girls can pursue their passions and dive deeper into video game design, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

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