Getting More Girls into STEM

Introduction

What is STEM and what it does?

STEM-IT- Forward, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), is an organization that addresses education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in technology developments, it has implications for workforce development national security concerns and immigration policy. There’s a significant under-representation of female engineers and scientists globally. Few high school female learners aspire to engineering and science related professions, not surprising though as there are few female role models. It’s a non-profit entity with the aim of promoting STEM for females on the continent. The organization has initiated new or championed existing projects targeting high school girls from rural and marginalized communities. These are Technovation challenge, IEEE WIE STAR schools program and Taungana.

 

Global crises.

A PROBLEM WE HAVE WITH S.T.E.M

As the U.S. plods along the road to recovery, many predict that economic expansion will come from growth industries such as the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Yet, that avenue isn’t paved well for everyone. African American women earned only 0.34% of Ph.D.s in computer science and 0.58% in engineering, as of 2006, according to the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

There are many reasons for this underrepresentation, including social and economic factors as well as gender bias. However, strides have been made and a select few have persevered: researching, innovating, mentoring, and paving the way for other African American women (and men) to follow in their footsteps.

Despite making up 46% of the overall UK workforce, government figures show that women hold just 15.5% of jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) fields. In engineering, this figure drops – along with my jaw – to as low as 9%.

While there are more women graduating from university than men, they form just 12% of engineering and technology graduates. Move up the ranks into more senior roles and, surprise, women are even more scarce. But why?

Think about it. Breaking the glass ceiling and advancing science go hand-in-hand. If we can get more women and girls – maybe half the world’s population – studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we have more chances to solve major global crises, from disease to arms control, from communications to health. Getting ahead on STEM is a challenge worth taking on.

This is one of the publication that summarized a research focused on what works to engage and support girls in STEM. This publication distills the existing research and provides it in user-friendly format to inform programming references in presentations and cite when writing proposals or seeking other types of program support.

The SciGirls Seven

The SciGirls PBS television series website and outreach initiatives emphasize current research on strategies increase girl’s engagement in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have showed how converged on a set of a common strategies that work and those have became SciGirls’ foundation.

How do we get more girls into STEM

Africa is a developing continent with a great need for development in the STEM fields. Access to information and exposure to STEM education and careers is extremely limited for students in rural schools in Africa. And, statistics continue to show the underrepresentation of females in STEM fields and sub-Saharan tertiary institutions.

 

Young women need more transparency around STEM careers, so that they can make informed decisions about their future. The relevant subjects need to be talked up more, and more must be done to show all the careers and opportunities available in STEM and how to get started on this career path. If all young people had a clear understanding of the fields, then perhaps they would start to look at studying them further if they had an initial interest in any of them. Ultimately, while there may be a long way to go. Things are changing and women in STEM are committed paving the way for younger generations of women. We need to show girls that anything is possible for anyone.

One of the ways one a program in Africa can do to help get more girls into STEM. Is the following methods

  • The can offer girls the opportunity to explore world-class education and career paths in STEM
  • The opportunity to connect with real women champions and role models in STEM sectors and mentors
  • They can be encouraged to become STEM promotion Ambassadors within their communities the influence of one peer to the next is very vital especially in teenagers.
  • They must receive the same access to STEM opportunities as their peers in advantaged communities if they are from rural areas.
  • They can become part of a mentored STEM network supporting their individual journeys in STEM
  • Be at the forefront of bridging the gap in technology access, literacy and usage at the grassroots levels.

These are just some of the methods that are being used by some of the program in Africa. We believe with proper guidelines, we can have more girls in the STEM fields.

 

TWIST- Tomorrow’s Woman Is Science and Technology

Is one of these initiatives that address such issues. They saw a need to recruit greater numbers of young people to enter the fields of STEM so that they can extend their budding talent pool. They saw it a mission that they reach out to the 50 percent of our population traditionally constrained from pursuing careers in science: women. This is what they had to say about bringing young woman into the STEM fields.

Over coffee one day, we decided that we would do our part to address this challenge. The answer, we believed, was self evident: We need to recruit greater numbers of young people to enter the fields of STEM

 

That is what motivated us to create two programs, both launched in dedicated to removing barriers to career advancement for women and encouraging young women to pursue the key disciplines of national security. The program, designed to encourage girls in STEM and international security.

Before a student group called Tomorrow’s Women in Science and Technology (TWIST), we related our educational and professional experiences, and shared our convictions: the world needs the kind of innovation and skill sets that these young women are acquiring, to be more competitive in today’s global economy. We will also need these skills to maintain our security. From working for global nuclear disarmament to fighting maritime piracy to cyber security, the future of international security is demanding – and the need for committed people imperative.

We also had the opportunity to hear students’ accounts of their own STEM-related projects, ranging from rockets to neuroscience to climate change research.
The events we had in schools were vibrant and productive, and we plan to expand our outreach beyond additional high schools in other area, nationally and internationally.

Recognizing the obstacles that women working in these fields face, we also launched the “RT Women’s Lecture Series” – a series of quarterly events engaging women in public diplomacy and international affairs, focused on removing professional barriers in information, technology, arms control, and science sectors.

Hackathons

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hack fest or code fest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.

Hackathons democratize social change technology by uniting coders with people who want to enact change in their communities through app design. In some companies, they often say that they have enough apps to tell you the weather; they need innovative apps that address safety, educational access, equity, language barriers, community organizing, food justice, and other issues faced by underrepresented communities.

Despite their prevalence and frequency, there is little research into the efficacy of hackathons beyond anecdotal evidence that supports or disproves the claim that these events reap positive social change results. This represents a significant gap in research as the tactic is gaining popularity and the problems in our communities need effective, sustainable technological interventions. There is, however, a lot of writing on “best practices” when staging hackathons.

I have pulled from these pieces the pros and cons of social change hackathons.  

Pros:

  • They can galvanize ideas, businesses, and social change initiatives
  • People can meet others with similar interests/goals, mentors, and make lasting connections
  • They can infuse energy into a cause and attract people to social change
  • They are enjoyable for the participants and it can be inspirational to take on big issues
  • They can make small dents in problems
  • They can simplify the act of starting an initiative into clear, actionable steps
  • They can expose people to coding and the process of app development
  • Hack out awesome shit wicked fast. No design reviews, no cross-function meetings, rubber stamp code reviews, and no PMs wavering between several mutually exclusive ideas.  It’s a group of engineers with one goal: getting something done.
  • Creativity.It gives you a chance to approach problems you might not normally encounter on your current project.  For instance, an infrastructure engineer might work on a product idea- and bring with him/her a fresh perspective.  Some of my projects have included cryptography, streaming video, and a rating system for bughouse.
  •  There’s a reason some fraternities make pledges spend sleepless nights together: it fosters a sense of community.  People get to know each other, they cross-pollinate more than usual
  • easy to start – no need for bootstrapping environment and gathering specification before hackathon
  • Easy to have closure after one day of hackathon. One can pick issue of size that he can complete during one day.
  • good feeling of contributing stages useful to tools that we use for free
  • Feeling of purposeful work with value added
  • working with new people outside company
  • chance to learn good coding practices besides new technologies
  • working with new people outside company
  • hackathon outside the office – no interruptions
  • fast way to pull new team or employees into agile development process
  • good marketing for you company
  • no need to maintain software that is created during hackathon – improving process of creating is goal of hackathon
  • no post hackathon activities

 

Cons:

  • Losing two days of work on your normal project.  Bonuses, raises, and promotions aren’t based on a cool hackathon project; but on sustained output with your normal work.  Sometimes it’s just impractical to lose two days of work for a night of hacking.
  • It feels more contrived as a company grows.  Like a 40 year old at a nightclub, big companies just can’t pull off an authentic hackathon.  Hackathons end up taking on multiple purposes (themes, recruiting, public relations, even launch parties), all of which detract from the main idea: hacking.  Plus a relatively smaller percentage of engineers will actually participate as a company grows.
  • It can be hard to focus.  Between a few kegs, ping pong, poker, and socializing; it can be hard to actually accomplish anything substantive.  Once a hackathon has taken on a “party” atmosphere, it can be impossibly hard to reemphasize hacking.
  • needs some preparation before
  • needs some closure afterwards – finishing leftovers, deploying, maintaining, fixing bugs
  • may need another day of hackathon to finish
  • needs some preparation before including meetings with people from organization
  • needs some closure afterwards – finishing leftovers, deploying, maintaining, fixing bugs
  • may need another day of hackathon to finish
  • needs a lot of preparation before
  • needs facilitator during the whole day
  • venue for hackathon and catering is needed

 

Using Hackathons/STEM as a strategy to get girls to code programming

 

Black Girls CODE has teamed up with Verizon and Break the Cycle to deliver a girls-only hackathon in Brooklyn with the theme “Love is Respect”.  Girls will take part in a youth focused hackathon that encourages creativity and teamwork. They will learn how to plan and build apps then demo their solution on stage with their team!

This hackathon is open to girls of ALL experience levels. Previous computer camp and STEM exposure is great but girls who are new to coding and building apps are welcome to apply as well!

Girls of all experience levels are welcome. Girls entering 6th through 12th grade next year. Girls who are interested in computer science, STEM, mobile and gaming

The hackathon theme, “Love is Respect,” will emphasize how girls can cultivate healthy relationships. Teams will build apps and solutions that solve problems in this space. In today’s world, young girls are bombarded with media and cultural expectations. As girls move into their teens and become young women, dating and relationships often play a large role in their lives. Break The Cycle is an organization focused on helping girls make better choices and establish healthy boundaries in relationships.

Some of the strategies used in America to get girls in code and programming.

Black Girls Code

Mission: Black Girls Code is a movement focused on introducing young girls of color to computer programming, mobile app development, robotics and other STEM fields.

What this grant means to your organization: “By reaching out to the community through workshops, hackathons and after-school programs, Black Girls Code introduces computer programming and technology to girls from underrepresented communities. This grant will allow us to expand these program offerings in our existing chapters, and help us launch in 10 new cities in 2014. It will also provide funding to increase our staff in order to support our programs across the country.”

Code.org

Mission: Code.org is dedicated to growing computer science education by making it available in more schools and increasing participation from women and underrepresented students of color.

What this grant means to your organization: “Our goal is for every student in every school to have the opportunity to learn computer science. In one whirlwind year, our organization has gone from a team of one to a staff of dozens, and we’re working hard to achieve our mission in three ways:

  • Through advocacy, we’re working to remove barriers in 33 out of 50 US statesthat don’t allow computer science to count toward graduation requirements.
  • And in education, we aim to partner with 100 public school districts nationwide to bring computer science to 1,000 high schools, while also spreading our free, K-8 Intro to
    Computer Science
    .
  • In December 2013, one in four students in US schools learned an Hour of Code. In 2014, we’re going for 100 million.

While we’ve been humbled by support for our cause thus far, these are daunting goals, and support from AzureDev will help today’s generation of young people think about computer science in a whole new way. No matter who they are, and what career path they may pursue, together we can help today’s students not just consume technology, but to create the technology of the future and change the world.”

Teaching Kids Programming

Mission: Teaching Kids Programming is a nonprofit organization of volunteer programmers and school teachers who have developed a framework designed specifically for teaching basic programming to children 10 and up. TKP is a designated project of the MONA Foundation.

What this grant means to your organization: “Winning helps us to create more courseware and to train other teachers around the world. Our vision is to create a full first-year course which could be used to introduce every middle-school student in the world to programming.”

CodeDay by StudentRND

Mission: CodeDays are 24-hour events where high school and college students of all experience levels get together, make something cool, and become better programmers.

What this grant means to your organization: “This grant allows us to continue to grow and engage passionate, motivated high school and college students to work on tech projects in their spare time.”

Thank you for your support! If you are passionate about changing the world through code, there is no better time to become an AzureDev. Sign up here to receive exclusive content drops from some of the top developers around the world as they share their stories on the hottest trends in programming and the impact they are having every day.

 

Bringing More Women into Computer Science

It’s no secret women students are woefully underrepresented in computer science. There’s a fun event coming up doing its part to help change that — the Windward Code War.

University of Wisconsin Computer Science Professor Joline Morrison said, “We really appreciated that the competition emphasized strategy and problem solving rather than simply coding.”

The emphasis on strategy and problem solving has brought a much higher percentage of female participants to the Windward Code War. I have three daughters who are all geeks. But I’ve found that unlike me, they also like human interaction in their day. The need for a team effort brings in more female students. And makes computer science a more compelling career choice for them.

The percentage of women majoring in Computer Science percent and has been dropping over the last several decades. This is a gigantic problem, both for the women who choose alternatives but would be happier in computer science and for society at large. Computer science is in worse shape than any other STEM major, and yet the future will see computer science jobs growing faster than most any other major. This is a giant problem.

A lot of hackathons tend to not be appealing to many women. They focus on the details instead of the big picture. The result is most female computer science students either avoid the hackathons or find them less than thrilling.

I’d like to say that our code war was purposely designed to appeal to female computer science students. It wasn’t. Pure luck that it does. But the important thing is we’ve created the kind of challenge that female students find fun and interesting. Not just a little bit of fun, but “one of the best days at school ever” fun. And making computer science fun for women students is a giant plus in encouraging more women to major in computer science.

When something works, go with it

Improving the type of challenges in programming competitions, especially those at the high school and freshman level, is key to increasing the number of women going into computer science. Most of the competitions today are almost purposely designed to discourage many women. That needs to change. Here’s what I think are the keys to making the competitions welcoming to women:

  1. Present problems that require collaboration and discussion throughout the contest to win. Many contests are won by students who can take a problem and code up a solution in minutes. There is no significant social interaction in this kind of contest, and that’s a problem.
  2. Present problems where the solutions from each team directly interact with the solutions from the other teams. This adds a significant new dimension to the level of interaction in the contest as opposed to each solution being individually measured. When you have multiple A.I.s in a game, each written by a team, then those teams are interacting with each other.
  3. Make the result fun. Measuring the fastest code where the result is a number is not fun. Creating an iPad app, a game, a social media widget — those are fun.
  4. Level the playing field. If the contest winner is the one who can write the tightest code, that’s not only uninteresting to most people, it’s also a poor measure of how useful someone will be in the real world. If the contest winner is the team that collaborates best and comes up with the best strategy that is a contest many women will embrace. Because the contest drives social interaction and teamwork.

We can have contests that encourage girls in high school to program. Ones where they have a lot of fun, walk out with a feeling of success, and see programming for what it truly is — a social endeavor that is part programming, but in large part a group collaborative effort to design something amazing.

And that will lead to more women majoring in computer science.

 

Together We Can Empower Our Girls

This summer, while most kids their age were hitting the beach in Miami, a group of high school girls were working hard. They were learning how to code and more.

We watched as 40 Miami-Dade County 11th and 12th grade girls learned computer science skills as part of an intense Summer Immersion Program. For seven weeks, the girls received mentorship and more than 250 hours of intensive classroom instruction in computing; mobile app development; robotics; graphics and animation; data structures and algorithms; and Web development and design.

What these girls learned was not just coding; they were brought together and given the skills they need to succeed in any career. Unfortunately, not enough of the girls who would benefit are involved in this national program and others similar in nature. That needs to change quickly for the sake of all our kids, especially young women, because what’s at stake here is nothing less than economic gender equality.

Workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are increasingly in demand; 80 percent of the fastest-growing U.S. jobs depend on STEM literacy. That demand is significantly larger than previously thought; according to a new Burning Glass Technologies study, there were 5.7 million STEM openings in 2013 and they paid, on average, 26 percent more than non-STEM jobs.

Yet, not all STEM jobs are created equal; tech, engineering and programming are growing at the fastest rates, with computing projected to make up 71 percent of STEM jobs by 2018. Unfortunately, these hottest careers too often see the fewest qualified female candidates. In 1984, 37 percent of computer-science degrees went to women, but now that number has fallen to only 12 percent. The U.S. Labor Department predicts 1.4 million jobs will be created in computing-related fields by 2020, but U.S. women will fill just 3 percent of them. What we are seeing is not lack of growth, but disturbing declines.

We might fix this by doing a better job of interesting girls in STEM careers, but we appear to be actively discouraging them; while STEM jobs are clearly the future, only 13 percent of girls say they plan to pursue a career there. Males are three times more likely to be interested in STEM careers than females, and that gap is widening at an ever-quickening rate as STEM jobs go unfilled.

One of the Girls Who Code participants we met in Miami, Bangladesh-born Shahrine Islam pointed out the problem about as clearly as any social critic could. “People fear what they don’t know,” she said, “and we live in a world where women have been conditioned to fear male-dominated fields such as computer science.”

We need to reverse this cultural trend by encouraging our girls, personally, and at a younger age. We have seen the enthusiasm young women show when given the chance to turn their ideas into reality through this program and how, with coaching, they are very interested in STEM. Maria Mejia, another of the young women we met in Miami, wants to own her own Fortune 500 company in the future, and wants to help other girls who are interested in STEM but face cultural discouragement. Yet another participant, Aysha Habbaba, believes that by taking part in coding instruction, she is actually encouraging gender equality and denouncing stereotypes.

The enthusiasm and dedication to succeed are there among our young women. Now it’s up to the rest of us, parents and those of us in business, non-profits, education and government, to support and nurture this clear and evident enthusiasm. The success of efforts that foster a love of tech and engineering among our young women needs to be built upon and expanded, ensuring that as many girls as possible are encouraged to stick with studies in STEM when they have a passion for it. Together, we can begin to level the playing field.

This new school year, let’s resolve to join together to encourage America’s girls to reach their full potential in these subjects and support them with concrete programs and initiatives that yield results. If we fail, we’ll be passively allowing inequality, cutting the next generations of women out of the fastest-growing industries in America with the best paying jobs.

Google Launching New Push to Get Girls into Coding                                   MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Diana Navarro loves to code, and she’s not afraid to admit it. But the 18-year-old Rutgers University computer science major knows she’s an anomaly: Writing software to run computer programs in 2014 is — more than ever — a man’s world.

“We live in a culture where we’re dissuaded to do things that are technical,” Navarro said. “Younger girls see men, not women, doing all the techie stuff, programming and computer science.”

Less than one percent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it’s one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This week Google, with a driverless car and Web-surfing eyeglasses under its belt, has given The Associated Press an early look at how it’s trying to change the gender disparity in its own workforce, and in the pipeline of potential workers, by launching a campaign Thursday called “Made with Code.”

The initiative begins with an introductory video of girls— silly, serious and brave — meeting President Obama, painting over graffiti and goofing around. The narrator says: “You are a girl who understands bits exist to be assembled. When you learn to code, you can assemble anything that you see missing. And in so doing, you will fix something, or change something, or invent something, or run something, and maybe that’s how you will play your bit in this world.”

A website features female role-model techies who write software to design cool fabrics or choreograph dances. There are simple, fun coding lessons aimed at girls and a directory of coding programs for girls. The search giant is also offering $50 million in grants and partnering with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit launched in 2012 that runs summer coding institutes for girls, including the one that helped focus Navarro’s passion for technology.

A preview test run of Google’s online coding lessons this week was deemed “awesome” by Carmen Ramirez y Porter, 11. “It’s not very complicated. It’s easy and fun and really cool to see how it turns out when you finish,” she said.

National Center for Women & Information Technology CEO Lucy Sanders, a leading advocate for women in computer sciences, sees the Made with Code initiative as a pivotal moment in what has been a long-term challenge of getting more girl geeks growing up in America.

“It used to be that as a computing community we didn’t really talk about gender issues. But now we’re really pulling together, from corporations and startups to nonprofits and universities,” Sanders said. “I’m very optimistic.”

There’s plenty of room for change.

Female participation in computer sciences has dropped to 18 percent, down from 37 percent in the 1980s, and only seven percent of U.S. venture capital deals go to women founders and CEOs. Just 20 percent of the 30,000 students who took the Advanced Placement computer science test last year were girls, according to a College Board analysis, which showed no girls at all took the test in Mississippi, Montana or Wyoming.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, one of the earliest Google employees, points to societal and economic drawbacks if women are not participating in the booming tech economy.

Also, she said, “I miss having more women counterparts.”

Tech firms are overwhelming male — Yahoo on Tuesday released a report showing 62 percent of its global employees are men. At Google, about 70 percent of the roughly 44,000 people it employs throughout the world are men. This year, the search giant commissioned a nationwide study to find out why so few women pursue technology careers, asking 1,600 people about whether they were encouraged to study computer sciences and had opportunities to learn to code.

Their findings, shared with the AP this week in advance of public release: Girls have little exposure to technology and computer sciences. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, however. If parents, friends and teachers encourage their daughters to pursue computer sciences, schools offer more courses and more role models step forward, the field can be leveled.

But to capture girls, it’s got to be fun.

That’s the plan for a “Made with Code” kick-off event in New York Thursday for 150 girls, where indie rockers Icona Pop will perform and coders will demo how they make everything from animated movies to designer fabrics with software. Actress Mindy Kaling, who is the event’s master of ceremonies, said she fights gender bias in Hollywood, but when a techie friend told her about Silicon Valley’s gender gap “it was staggering.”

“Just as television and movies need to reflect their audience, I think it’s important that people who create technology reflect the diversity of people who use them,” she said.

Chelsea Clinton, who is representing the Clinton Foundation at Thursday’s event, said she got her own first computer in 1987 from Santa Claus.

“Ultimately computer science is helping to create the future,” she said. “So when we think about the future, we know we need to be doing more in this country and around the world to ensure that girls and women see computer sciences as real, viable options for them.”

Entrepreneur Dez White wasn’t necessarily pursuing a tech career when she asked a patron at her family’s restaurant to teach her to write software. She just had an idea for an app and wanted to make it.

“It was very hard for me to get my head around it,” White said. “I didn’t go to Stanford for code.”

Today, she hires coders for her firm Goinvis, which sells privacy apps that allows users to send texts that self-destruct at a set time and emails that disappear from an inbox after they’re opened.

But in addition to her day job, as a successful female African-American entrepreneur, she realizes she needs to be a mentor as well.

“I think young women don’t even realize computer sciences are an option. It’s not laid out like nursing and social work,” she said.

Next year, she’s planning to organize a technology retreat for high school girls, and she tries to hire women for her growing company.

“It’s hard. We have to really look. Their numbers are very, very slim,” she said.

How Teaching Girls to Code Is Changing the World

 

When running for Congress in 2010, Reshma Saujani campaigned in “some of the country’s wealthiest zip codes and some of the poorest,” she says. She eventually lost the race, but not before noticing the awfully small number of female students with access to computer science classes, no matter the neighborhood. “In America, girls typically don’t score as high in math and science as boys,” says Saujani, 37. “But in many other countries, that is not the case. I can still buy a pink T-shirt here that says ‘Math Sucks.'”

She knew that young women should be prepared to enter the tech industry, especially since IT jobs are forecast to jump about 22 percent by 2020. So in 2011 she founded Girls Who Code, asking: “If you give girls technology, how can they change the world?”

Last summer she got her answer. For eight weeks Girls Who Code hosted 20 New York City high scholars, who learned robotics, HTML, and app design. She realized that with these tools, girls excel in computer science and tend to develop technology with an altruistic mind-set: an algorithm to detect cancer; a Web site to teach computer skills in 32 languages.

Share with: