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Rung for Women creates geospatial program to give women career opportunities

The Rung for Women headquarters on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in St. Louis’ Fox Park neighborhood. Rung for Women offers “the resources, space and community for women who are ready to work toward the career and the life they deserve,” according to their website.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Leslie Gill, president of Rung for Women, said she wants more women, especially women of color, to enter the geospatial industry.

Rung for Women, a career services nonprofit, has received a $250,000 federal grant to train women for careers in the geospatial industry.

The U.S. Department of Commerce provided the funding through its STEM Talent Challenge, which supports science, technology, engineering and math training across the nation.

Rung for Women created a certificate program with Maryville University to prepare more women, especially women of color, for the field. It will begin next summer.

“I just hope that it becomes a viable career path with limitless growth potential for women in the region, especially women of color," said Leslie Gill, Rung for Women president. “I'd love to see affinity groups for Black women in geospatial or GIS analysis, and I love to see more curriculum in our K-12 space that really helps to develop that interest earlier.”

Women who participate in the training can earn a certificate through a 10-week course that will teach professional skills, such as time management, communication and cognitive functioning skills — problem-solving and critical thinking.

Participants will then work through a 12-week geoanalyst training program. It will prepare them to examine satellite imagery and other geographic information systems data.

“I really see this as a catalyst to help grow talent and develop talent so that they are ready once the National Geospatial Agency opens,” Gill said.

Rung for Women plans to offer the training to about 60 women. Once they complete the computer-based program, they will have the opportunity to interview with three local geospatial companies.

Gill said women who gain such skills could be in the forefront of the geospatial industry.

This program can be a kickstarter for women interested in a field long dominated by men, said Scott Chadwick, corporate partnership acquisitions chief at Maryville University. He worked with the nonprofit, corporate partners and faculty members to help develop the curriculum.

“It's all about access and opportunity and recognizing that people can do amazing things if we provide them the opportunity to learn and get prepared for jobs, especially technology jobs that women and people of color have traditionally been underrepresented in,” Chadwick said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.