Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, founder of the Women’s Institute for Young Girls (WIYG), welcomes participants to the new Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) at L.A. High School
State Senator Holly J. Mitchell hosted a mentoring luncheon to launch the Women’s Institute for Young Girls (WIYG), her new district initiative to empower local female students to pursue academic and professional aspirations in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) in partnership with the new Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) located on the Los Angeles High School campus. Women of color are under-represented in STEAM careers, which are the fastest growing and best paid professions in California. WIYG’s first offering welcomed 60 girls of GALA’s first freshman class to on the spot mentor-in-the-moment lunch conversations with women who hold leading positions in STEAM fields.
Thirty five percent of women in South Los Angeles live in poverty, 13% in deep poverty and more undocumented immigrants live in greater Los Angeles than any other county. More than 9,000 girls are in the L.A. County foster care system and Los Angeles is a top point of entry for victims of human trafficking, predominantly female minors of color. Hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality, previously chaired by Senator Mitchell probed, through testimony from academics, program providers, advocates and women who have experienced the travails of poverty, how race, gender and poverty intersect to create exploitative circumstances and diminished opportunity. Policies and programs were highlighted that might bring needed change. One recommendations was a call for pathways to more and better educational opportunities and career paths for urban girls of color. Future WIYG activities include exposing participating girls to emerging and/or little known STEAM career paths and encouraging them to imagine and to reach for paths toward success via lectures, industry trips, guided dialogue and observation of/interaction with professional women of color at work.