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 the 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 the Citizen SciGirls Transmedia and Research to Encourage Girls in STEM, SciGirls CONNECT – A Diffusion Scale Up Project, ITEST Learning Resource Center, and Build IT Underwater Robotics Scale Up for STEM Learning and Workforce Development projects. All of these projects are funded by the NSF and address gender, racial and socioeconomic underrepresentation in STEM fields. Many of them access the 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 which develop and administer programs designed to increase underrepresented students’ interests in STEM. She serves on the Board of Directors for True Child, an independent think tank which 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 has also 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.