Turn­ing 100, Olym­pus do­nates $10K to Girl Scouts

The Morning Call - - BUSINESS CYCLE - By An­thony Sala­m­one

ABOUT OLYM­PUS

Olym­pus Corp. is named for the tallest moun­tain in Greece, but Melinda “Mindy” Bene­dict noted women still have far to climb in the ca­reers of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math.

Bene­dict spoke Fri­day at the com­pany’s Up­per Sau­con Town­ship cam­pus as the cor­po­ra­tion cel­e­brated its 100th an­niver­sary. The Le­high Val­ley fes­tiv­i­ties in­cluded Olym­pus do­nat­ing $10,000 to the STEM pro­gram of­fered by Girl Scouts of East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

Bene­dict said women make up half the U.S. col­lege-ed­u­cated work­force, but only 28% of sci­ence and engi­neer­ing work­force, cit­ing data from a Na­tional Girls Col­lab­o­ra­tive Pro­ject.

“It’s ob­vi­ously bet­ter,” Bene­dict said. “But I think as a woman, you still fight that pre­con­ceived no­tion that STEM is a man’s world, and those are mas­cu­line jobs.”

The Ja­pa­nese com­pany’s Le­high Val­ley head­quar­ters, which serves North and South Amer­ica, held a cel­e­bra­tion that in­cluded em­ploy­ees, their chil­dren and Girl Scouts. Four girls, some sport­ing vests or sashes and badges sig­ni­fy­ing their progress in scout­ing, lit­er­ally took cen­ter stage to ac­cept an over­sized check.

The Girls Scouts STEM pro­gram em­pow­ers girls, said Bene­dict, a former scout who is Olym­pus’ se­nior man­ager of in­fec­tion pre­ven­tion, and Kim Fraites-Dow, Girl Scouts of East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia CEO.

Fraites-Dow did not have specifics about how the money would be dis­trib­uted. Girl Scouts pro­vides ac­tiv­i­ties to hun­dreds of troops that serve 40,000 girls in nine coun­ties, and it also part­ners with or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Al­len­town’s Da Vinci Sci­ence Cen­ter.

Fraites-Dow also said Girl Scouts is fo­cused on aid­ing the 28% in dis­cov­er­ing STEM. “And they want to pur­sue it,” she said, “so they can de­sign med­i­cal de­vices that will make the world bet­ter.”

It’s too soon to say whether Alexa Ebel­ing will get to de­sign an Olym­pus med­i­cal de­vice or con­sumer prod­uct, or even work for the com­pany. She’s just 11, but has learned how to make slime and about physics through STEM.

Cat­a­pults that Alexa’s troop made for toss­ing pump­kins also taught the girls about force, ten­sion and other prop­er­ties, her mother and troop leader Kelly Ebel­ing said.

Alexa later joined three other scouts and Fraites-Dow in ac­cept­ing the cutout check from Olym­pus Pres­i­dent and CEO Na­cho Abia.

“The fu­ture is you,” said Abia, wear­ing a black T-shirt bear­ing the com­pany’s 100th an­niver­sary logo, told the crowd. “Maybe one day when you grow up, you can come and work with us, and de­velop our fu­ture.”

Youth ed­u­ca­tion is one of two ar­eas Olym­pus plans to fo­cus dur­ing its an­niver­sary year, which be­gins Sat­ur­day. The other is can­cer aware­ness. For more in­for­ma­tion on other events, go to olym­pusamer­ica.com or true­to­life.com.

Morn­ing Call reporter An­thony Sala­m­one can be reached at 610-820-6694 or asala­m­[email protected]

AN­THONY SALA­M­ONE/THE MORN­ING CALL

Kim Fraites-Dow, Girl Scouts of East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia CEO, ac­cepts a cutout check for $10,000 from Olym­pus Cor­po­ra­tion of the Amer­i­cas on Fri­day, dur­ing the com­pany’s kick­off mark­ing its 100th an­niver­sary.

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