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Podhradsky featured in IF/THEN® Ambassador Collection

July 21, 2020

IF/THEN®, a national initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies® which seeks to advance women in STEM, is launching the IF/THEN® Collection, the world's first, free, digital resource library created to significantly contribute to the underrepresented supply of women in STEM imagery worldwide.

The IF/THEN Collection is the largest, free resource of its kind with thousands of photos and videos of diverse and powerful images of contemporary women in STEM. The collection is a critical component of IF/THEN's mission to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers as well as create a culture shift in how the world perceives women in STEM.

The collection features 125 female STEM innovators selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Lyda Hill Philanthropies® to be AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors, all serving as high-profile role models for girls. The collection will serve as a resource for nonprofit organizations, museums, schools, teachers, camps, parents, media and others. Photos and videos are accessible for anyone to view and stream for non-commercial use on the online platform managed in partnership with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP).

Dakota State University's Dr. Ashley Podhradsky is one of the women featured. Podhradsky is associate dean of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Science, and associate professor of Information Assurance and Forensics. She is also a co-founder of CybHER, and a digital forensics expert. CybHER is a DSU program that empowers, motivates and educates girls in cybersecurity.

“Women make up about half the population of the country, and can bring so much to STEM fields, both in proficiency and in unique perspectives” said Podhradsky. The IF/THEN and AAAS ambassador program and collection provides inspiration to young women interested in the STEM fields of business, research, and academic, she stated.

As part of the launch, IF/THEN teamed up with the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and its network of nearly 400 science and technology centers and museums across the United States. IF/THEN is providing a $650,000 grant program for ASTC-member museums to showcase more women across their exhibits, displays, and materials, including by using assets from the collection.

“The demand for real images of women and gender minorities in STEM is part of an increasing effort among museums to advance representation of the full diversity of humanity in their content,” said Cristin Dorgelo, ASTC's president and CEO. ASTC awarded grants to 26 museums in the initial phase, and a second wave of grants will come later this year.

“The IF/THEN Collection offers unlimited opportunity to influence the visual world around us, because we know, ‘IF she can see it, THEN she can be it,'” said Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies® and co-founder of the IF/THEN Initiative.

“Our goal is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool, and seeding the visual landscape with images of relatable and diverse women is key to making this happen.” - Nicole Small

IF/THEN is also pleased to announce a partnership with educational crowdfunding site DonorsChoose to inspire teachers across the country to incorporate the IF/THEN Collection imagery in teaching materials and lessons and then share the best ideas among a network of educators.

In time for the back-to-school season, the nonprofit DonorsChoose will run the IF/THEN Collection Innovation Challenge to promote free access to the collection and a dollar-for-dollar matching program for teachers who create classroom projects designed to leverage the IF/THEN Collection. IF/THEN is donating $1 million and calling on the public to join in their support. In addition to the competition channeling more funding towards classroom resources, the program will distribute 50,000 free classroom posters featuring images from the IF/THEN Collection. Teachers are encouraged to enter the competition by posting one project. The 10 most innovative projects will receive $5,000 in DonorsChoose credits to use towards their next request. Winning teachers will share their project insights so that other teachers across the country can adapt these inspiring projects for their own classrooms.

“With back-to-school looking very different this year, image-based communication matters now more than ever,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose. “We are proud to partner with IF/THEN to provide teacher across the country with a unique opportunity to participate in the IF/THEN Collection Innovation Challenge. By being able to leverage and integrate this robust collection of authentic and diverse imagery of women in STEM into creative and exciting teaching materials and lessons, educators will be instrumental in promoting this new STEM narrative and culture shift.”

In addition to distributing posters and running grants for schools and museums, IF/THEN is funding nearly $1.25 million for Coalition partners Girl Scouts of the USA and Teach For America to supplement content using the IF/THEN Collection. For example, Girls Scouts of the USA will use the Collection in coordination with the organization's STEM programming for girls, and Teach For America will integrate the Collection into teacher resources and new STEM curriculum.

For more information on the Collection and the IF/THEN initiative, please visit https://www.IfThenCollection.org/.

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