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Cordero helps create new online program designed to inspire girls’ interest in STEM

Minerva Cordero, senior associate dean and professor of mathematics
Minerva Cordero, senior associate dean and professor of mathematics

Minerva Cordero, College of Science senior associate dean and professor of mathematics, is co-organizer of a new online program which aims to inspire girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) by sharing profiles of outstanding Latina scientists and engineers.

The program, Semillas de Triunfo (Seeds of Success): IF/THEN Edition, includes the Semillas de Triunfo Women in STEM Collection, an educational resource which was launched in early October to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and to highlight female leaders in STEM.

Cordero is among those featured in the collection, which is made possible in part by the Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN initiative. The initiative was created in 2019 to inspire girls with better portrayals of women in STEM through media and learning experiences to pique their interest in STEM careers. Cordero was named last fall to the inaugural cohort of 125 IF/THEN ambassadors. The IF/THEN initiative provides the ambassadors a national platform to tell their stories and inspire the next generation of STEM pioneers.

The motto of the Semillas de Triunfo: IF/THEN Edition program is, “IF we support a girl in STEM, THEN she can change the world.”

“With the changing demographics in our country it is imperative that we attract more women into STEM careers, especially Hispanic women,” Cordero said. “Currently only 2 percent of the STEM workforce are Latinas; I am glad to be part of this initiative to help change that.”

The Semillas de Triunfo collection features 160 Latina scientists and engineers who are professionals in academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. It includes scientists and engineers from the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Guyana and Portugal.

All content in the collection is free, thanks in part to the support of the IF/THEN Initiative. The collection is searchable by discipline and has links to the women’s profiles on the Science Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) website, which includes other details about the women and their careers.

Cordero created the Semillas de Triunfo (Seeds of Success): IF/THEN Edition program along with fellow IF/THEN ambassadors Greetchen Díaz, Beatris Mendez, and Roselin Rosario. The program gives 121 schoolgirls, from seventh to ninth grade, the opportunity to develop their skills and leadership abilities in STEM and to become STEM ambassadors in their communities.

“The Women in STEM Collection is a culturally relevant resource in Spanish that will allow young Latinxs to identify with them, learn from their experiences and be motivated to explore these disciplines,” said Giovanna Guerrero Medina, executive director of CienciaPR. “We are very excited about its launch because for the first time, families, schools and educational organizations in Puerto Rico, the United States, and Latin America will get to know the stories and trajectories of hundreds of women.”

Each profile in the collection contains a poster with a photo, a biography, and a short video in Spanish, so viewers can learn more about the scientists. The posters can be downloaded for use in schools, museums, youth educational centers, and other places.

Cordero has also been involved in other efforts by the IF/THEN initiative to boost young girls’ interest in STEM. She is among the IF/THEN ambassadors featured in a 3D statue display of innovative women leaders in STEM in a preview exhibit at NorthPark Center in Dallas. The IF/THEN exhibit will run through November 9; a larger exhibit featuring 122 ambassadors is planned for next spring.

She has been working to increase opportunities for women and historically underrepresented groups in STEM for years. In 2018-19 she served as program director of the ADVANCE and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) programs, in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Education and Human Resource Development.

As ADVANCE director, she led a team in supporting the development of innovative organizational change strategies to enhance gender equity in STEM academics in non-profit institutions of higher education. As HSI program director, she led an effort to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs and to increase retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs.

Cordero has also served as director of UTA’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation’s Bridge-to-Doctorate Fellowship program and has managed UTA’s NSF GK-12 MAVS Program.