KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University is sharing a nearly a million-dollar grant to find ways to encourage more women to teach in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Western is splitting a $996,000 grant from the National Science Foundation with three other universities to look at ways to recruit and retain more female STEM instructors.

The hope is training, mentorship, and other programs will find ways to improve female representation in these fields.

Carla Koretsky, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says it is important to have female role models for women and girls interested in STEM careers.

“I think we miss out when women, or women of color, feel like this is not the career for them,” Koretsky said. “We’re missing a huge talent base that we need in this country.”

Graduate student Bonnie Ebendick-Corpus is hard at work studying cell biology this semester. She left her job at a small company and returned to academia to pursue an advanced degree.

“In the last job, I was the only female working at the company,” Ebendick-Corpus said.

She believes programs like this can help identify and overcome barriers for women working in the sciences and will benefit society as a whole.

According to Koretsky, there are many reasons why women and girls do not pursue or stay in STEM careers.

“I think there’s a lot of unconscious bias and a lot of messaging that goes out to young girls that math and science are really more for men,” Koretsky said. 

The grant will officially kick-in in October and last three years.