By Jeff Mays
Place of residence: Chicago
Why she is a Game Changer: When Lomax learned that her daughter wanted to be a dentist, she was thrilled. But soon she found the resources weren’t available to help her daughter achieve her dreams. That’s why Lomax started Girls 4 Science in 2009. The nonprofit organization helps minority girls from the ages of 10 to 18 develop an interest in science, math, and education. It is the only all-girls science program in Chicago.
“There is a big gap in underserved communities,” Lomax told ABC. “When we talk about resources, we talk about opportunity as well as the potential to see future role models.”
There is a persistent gender gap when it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Women hold only 24 percent of the jobs in those fields even though they hold 50 percent of the jobs in the country, according to the Commerce Department. Women also hold a disproportionately low amount of degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, especially engineering.
Even if a woman gains a degree in those fields she is less likely to work in one of them.
Why does it matter? Women who work in the science, technology, engineering, and math earn 33 percent more than women not in those fields.
“As a Mom, I worked very hard to create a solution, to create an opportunity that would empower, enrich, and graduate the next scientists out of Chicago,” Lomax said.
At Girls 4 Science, participants are placed in a non-competitive nurturing environment where they get science literacy, hands-on experiments, mentoring, field trips, and scholarships that points them toward the careers of their choice.
Those tactics are important because researchers believe that the disparity in STEM jobs for women could be due to a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping and inflexibilty in science, technology, engineering and math careers when it comes to raising a family. These are all obstacles that can be overcome with the help of initiatives such as Girls 4 Science.
So far, 300 girls have participated in the program. For her efforts, Lomax was recently named a 2013 Allstate Give Back Day Hero. The annual award honors those who are honoring the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
“Jackie Lomax is an outstanding individual who keeps Dr. King’s legacy alive through her unwavering devotion to bettering the greater Chicagoland community,” said Vicky Dinges, vice president of public social responsibility for Allstate.
“Each of our heroes has truly made a commitment to community service, and we hope that their dedication will serve as motivation for others to give back on MLK Day and every day.”
Lomax, who started out wanting to help her daughter but who has uplifted her community and served as an example for others, understands the significance of what she’s accomplished.
“As a young girl growing up, you always want to have value for the things you do,” said Lomax.
And Lomax’s daughter feels she’s on the right path because of her mother’s efforts.
“This program is motivating me that I can be a female, successful dentist by showing us that other people can do it as well,” said Lauren Lomax.