girlSPARC™ founders, moms of elementary school aged girls and engineers, are inspired to spark the curiosity of girls and mentor them at an early age in STEM.
Anita Mathew, co-founder of girlSPARC
Anita is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, an entrepreneur, wife, mom and chemical engineer from Purdue University and co-founder of girlSPARC. Like all good stories, girlSPARC started as out as an idea over a 2012 dinner with fellow co-founder Tracy Stone.
Long before their first meeting however, Anita had previous dinner conversations, particularly with her 7 year old daughter about Math. “I am not good at Math,” her daughter said. This ignited an opportunity for Anita to step in and change her young daughters’ perception and confidence towards math and science related subjects.
As a daughter of two professors, Anita knew academia was in her blood. After working 20+ years in corporations (such as General Electric, General Mills and Johnson & Johnson) and leaving the medical technology start up (Glooko) she co-founded in 2010, she knew she had to create a new venture around her passion. It was time to bring her expertise in business, product development and engineering and her fervor for her daughters and their education together. girlSPARC does just this – it combines her interests, her skills and the need to support future women in STEM related employment.
"We try to create an environment where math and science is exciting. It’s our job to showcase math and science in everyday life and peak the girls curiosity for a life long interest in the field. Engineers and scientists are creative problem solvers and we need to expose girls more often to these career possibilities."
- Anita Mathew, co-founder of girlSPARC
Tracy Stone, co-founder of girlSPARC
Tracy is a Computer and Electrical Engineer from Purdue University, mom of three, wife, runner, and co-founder of girlSPARC.
Her inspiration to pursue a degree in engineering stemmed from her high school physics teacher, who selected Tracy to participate in a summer program affiliated with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at Carnegie Mellon. Tracy got her first taste of computer programming through that project and was surprised to discover how much she enjoyed it. This changed Tracy’s career path, paving the way for a career she initially never envisioned.
While at Purdue, Tracy participated in a Purdue Women in Engineering seminar freshman year and loved hearing the female speakers and their inspirational stories. The seminar has such an impact on her, that her senior year Tracy was a mentor to freshman female engineering students. After Purdue, Tracy worked for 15+ years as a manager and engineer in both computer hardware and software organizations at Hewlett Packard, Intel and Adobe often being in predominantly male dominated work groups.
When she and Anita met in 2012, they both realized they both had a hidden passion in teaching math and science. Tracy had always dreamed of being a math teacher to be able to share her love of math and inspire young students to enjoy (and maybe even love!) it.
Now, she’s giving back by inspiring girls, exposing them and building their confidence in STEM topics.