March 13, 2024
A photo collage of recent BWGC grantees including Boolean Girl, Sustainability Matters, Black Girls Hack, and others. There is a 10 year anniversary logo in the top center of the image.
March is Women’s History Month, and this year marks the 10-year anniversary of launch of the Business Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. In that decade, the BWGC has invested more than $535,000 in grants, inspiring thousands of girls and young women to join the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields and connecting countless donors, changemakers, and constituents alike.

Jen Dalton, BWGC member, former chair, and current co-chair of the Membership Committee spoke to the Community Foundation, tying the giving circle’s mission to national and global statistics in trends. “Without intervention, pay parity for women might not happen for another century or more. The Business Women’s Giving Circle is just one tool to intervene and level that playing field more quickly.” BWGC’s focus on bridging gaps in STEM education for girls and young women has been its calling since 2014. There are huge problems to address, but since Jen joined the giving circle in 2018, she has thoroughly enjoyed the experiences. “It’s a challenge of the giving circle every year to pick three or four grantees from a pool of many well-qualified, inspiring applicants. It’s a problem that we enjoy solving, every single year.”

Judy Redpath, the current BWGC chair, who joined in 2017, also enjoys the challenge. “Many hands make light work,” she told us. “The goal has always been to come together and focus on a community in need: young women from historically underinvested parts of Northern Virginia. We want to provide a great networking platform for the participants, and to have a little fun, of course.”

For her, the mission is personal. Judy's path towards a career in STEM was not easy. When she was sixteen years old, a teacher told her that she didn’t need to take any more math classes, because she wouldn’t need it in the future for work. In her 20s, she went back to school at George Mason University for her MBA and took two required math courses. As she says, “I was lucky to have a professor who cared. There were many adult learners continuing our education in that class, and he told us the first day that we’d at least learn to not be afraid of math ever again.” Judy’s story isn’t unique. Historically, and even still, young women and girls are taught to fear math or that they won’t need math, antithetical to the government’s own data showing that most job growth over the next decades will be in STEM fields.

Judy and Jen are both optimistic about the next ten years of the BWGC. Both want there to be as “much participation as possible,” so if you’re interested in joining the Giving Circle, you can learn more here! Jen Dalton said to us, “the earlier you help women and girls gain confidence, you give them a strong foundation in life.” Judy Redpath added to this, saying in part, “There’s still a lot of work to be done. I want our giving circle members to open their eyes to the possibilities of what happens when you uplift, invest, and celebrate progress.”

So what do the next ten years of the BWGC look like? Investing more, continuing to build community among giving circle members and grantees alike, and bridging the gaps, helping young women and girls in Northern Virginia believe in what’s possible. We invite you to join us in shaping the next decade of the BWGC! Learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of girls and young women in Northern Virginia here.