Chief Executive Officer and Founder (she/her)
Karen A. Peterson is the Chief Executive Officer for the National Girls Collaborative. She has over 25 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, university instructor, teacher educator, program administrator, and researcher. Currently, Peterson is the Principal Investigator for the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP). Designed by Peterson, the NGCP seeks to maximize access to shared resources for public and private sector organizations interested in expanding girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The overarching goal of NGCP is to use the leverage of a network or collaboration of individual girl-serving STEM programs to create the tipping point for gender equity in STEM. Currently, 33 Collaboratives, serving 41 states, facilitate collaboration between 36,400 organizations who serve 20.15 million girls and 9.5 million boys.
Peterson is also Co-Principal Investigator for Leap into Science: Cultivating a National Network for Informal Science and Literacy, STEM Integration into Digital Forensics Science Learning, SciGirls Code: A National Connected Learning Model to Integrate STEM Learning with Middle School Girls, and Code: SciGirls! Media to Engage Girls in Computing Pathways. All of these projects are funded by the National Science Foundation and address gender, racial, and socioeconomic underrepresentation in STEM fields. Many of them access NGCP’s national network and dissemination tools to distribute, scale-up, and/or replicate project outcomes. These projects have leveraged Karen’s expertise in STEM equity project development, effective national scale-up strategies, dissemination, and capacity building.
Peterson serves on local and national boards that develop and administer programs designed to increase underrepresented students’ interests in STEM. She has served on the Board of Directors for True Child, an independent think tank that translates research and knowledge on the impact of gender stereotypes into a range of effective interventions, policies, and other resources for the organizations and policy makers. Peterson has published in The Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering and CBE Life Sciences Education, a journal published by the American Society for Cell Biology. She co-authored evaluation reports and promising practices reports in informal information technology education for girls for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. In 2013, Peterson was profiled in STEMConnector’s™ 100 Women Leaders in STEM publication. A graduate of the University of Washington, Bothell campus, her master’s thesis focused on gendered attitudes towards computer use in education.