New State Program Offers Mentorship Opportunity to High School Girls Interested in STEM Careers Program Seeks to Improve Workforce Development and Gender Equity in North Carolina

Raleigh, NC

Ahead of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, the NC Department of Administration (DOA) launched a new mentorship program on July 1, to address gender equity in North Carolina within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program, established by DOA Secretary Machelle Sanders, offers high school girls in North Carolina an opportunity to explore STEM-based careers within state government.

This year, nine local high school students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, were chosen to participate in the 4-week summer enrichment program. Students shadowed leaders within North Carolina’s Cabinet agencies and completed a research project based on Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 80 that addresses climate change and transition to a clean energy economy in North Carolina.

“My vision for the Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program is to create a foundation for young girls to develop leadership skills while learning more about STEM careers within state government,” DOA Secretary Sanders said. “Offering such opportunities and training creates a better future for our state, improving both gender equality and our state’s economy. It is important that women in STEM-based positions be a model to young girls aspiring for careers in such fields. Afterall, you cannot be what you cannot see, diversity is strength and inclusion fuels innovation.”

The 2018 Status of Women in NC: Employment and Earnings Report, released by the DOA Council for Women and Youth Involvement in collaboration with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, shows the growing disparity in employment and earnings among women and men in North Carolina. If unchanged, the gender wage gap would not begin to close until year 2060. Reducing occupational segregation in fields such as information technology and engineering—both  high-growth and high-earning careers—will  help improve the status of women in our state, allowing more families to achieve economic security, reduce the number of people in poverty and grow the state’s economy.

Data from the Status of Women report underscores Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready Initiative, which advocates for more internships, trainings, and apprenticeships to prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program offers North Carolina’s best and brightest high school girls beyond the classroom learning experiences that challenge their problem-solving skills and creativity. On August 1, the program concluded with a presentation at the NC Executive Mansion. Before an audience of family and state government mentors, the mentees showcased their summer research projects on how to make North Carolina a more sustainable state. Recommendations included the use of more biodegradable products, modifications to current recycling infrastructure and the preservation of bees. DOA Secretary Sanders and NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan ended the event by congratulating the mentees for their work and commitment to working toward a better North Carolina.  

For more information on the Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program, visit the NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement website for details.

2019 Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program Student Participants:  



(Top Row, From Left to Right) Trinity Garza, Katherine Johnston, Brooke Chow, Zora Banks, and Taylor Davis

 (Bottom Row, From Left to Right) NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan, Layla Hamilton, Denette Thompson, Marissa Colbert, and DOA Secretary Machelle Sanders

 (Not Pictured) Melissa Mavhura




About DOA

Established in 1957, the Department of Administration acts as the business manager for North Carolina state government. Under the leadership of Secretary Machelle Sanders since appointed by Governor Roy Cooper in 2017, the department oversees Government Operations and advocacy programs. The department's advocacy programs provide advocacy, assistance and services to diverse segments of the state's population that have been traditionally underserved.


The North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement (CFYI) is a division of the North Carolina Department of Administration.  The mission of the Council is to advise the Governor, state legislators and state leaders on issues that impact women and youth.