For school, we are doing a unit on Community Awareness Projects in which we have to create a product and presentation that benefits some aspect of society.
Girls In Technology
I wanted to research girls in technology, specifically what women believe hold them back, statistics, and how this connects to Pi á la code.
According to these stats from GirlsWhoCode.com:
- 76% of middle school girls are interested in STEM, but only 0.3% of all girls actually pursue Computer Science in high school.
- Women today represent only 12% of computer science graduates.
- In a room of 25 computer scientists, only 3 of them are women.
- In high school AP courses, 55% of the AP test takers are girls; however in the computer science, only 17% of the test takers are girls.
These statistics are really scary, and show that even though the feminist movement has recently beem gaining popularity, there is still a huge gender gap for girls in STEM.
#What women think
As I was doing my research, I read some really cool stories about women accross the globe who are making an effort to try and involve girls in technology.
A few weeks ago I had to opportunity to meet Jocelyn Goldfein, the Director of Engineering at Facebook. She is a huge advocate for women in technology. In a HuffPost article, she talked about why she wants to change the stereotypes.
"Personally, I care that there aren’t more women in tech because I love most aspects of my job, and the one thing I don’t love is often being the only woman in the room," said Goldfein, "I would just enjoy my job more if there were more women."
I completely agree with this. Even though I am far from working, I still see how women are at a disadvantage in Computer Science. Since it has been a mostly male-dominated field for many years, there is a lot of stigma surrounding the image of a "coder" or "hacker". What first comes to mind is a 20-year old boy, who hasn't bathed in a couple days, sitting in a recliner chair in his basement furiously typing away. The area is a mess, with soda cans and half-eaten chip bags lying all over the place. I want to change that image. I think that girls also have the potential to be coders, and that the more women that are involved in Computer Science, the less this stereotype will be believed.
Another company that believes in the same philosophy is she++ founded by two current Stanford Senior girls. Their goal is to try and inspire future generations of girls to get interested in Computer Science. I had the amazing opportunity to attend the she++ #include fellowship, where 30 girls accross the nation were selected to visit companies, show off projects, and have access to all things CS for a span of three days. This just proves how much women are supporting other women to create an environment where both guys and gals can have equal opportunities in Computer Science. The term femgineers has also become a popular way to reference women in technology, but they are more than that.
She++ founder Ayna Agarwal says that, "it’s taken [she++] two years to realize that Silicon Valley does not simply need women in technology. It needs femgineers. Femgineers are not just computer scientists. We had not been coding all our lives, but we have had experiences.
Advances have been made not only in the Silicon Valley, but all over the world too! Regina Agyare is the founder of a software development company named Soronko Solutions in Ghana. To support women, she visits Ghanian slums once a month to teach the children there how to build apps and create computer programs. This is similar to what I want to do, by bringing computer programming - specifically Python - to girls and teens in rural India, where they do not have the same opportunities as I do in the Silicon Valley.
#Tech to India
Girls here in the Bay Area now have a lot more access to STEM. At my high school, AP Computer Science is now offered as a course, along with Intro to CS. Even though the majority of the students in the class are boys, the fact that this is even available to girls is amazing.
However, this is not the case in Kasauli, rural Himachal Pradesh. Even in 2003, women in Himachal Pradesh were expected to leave their studies after 7th or 8th grade and either work at home or get married early. This has changed since then, but women are still viewed as inferior to men. Now, in 2014, The computer education that the school has in place is based on learning how to power off a computer or how to save a word document. I want to change this, and try and broaden their idea of computers.
In terms of primary research, I had the ability to email and skype call the school I am going to in India. I also had the opportunity to look at their curriculum for 9th and 10th grade students, so I could figure out how I wanted my curriculum to be. The skype calling allowed me to make personal connections and actually interact with people through video calling. I was also able to talk to one of the girls at the school, Jupi, who is also a 10th grader like me. She also has huge ambitions, and wants to be a judge in the Indian Supreme Court. The more these girls dream, the brighter the future will be.
So let's help change the world, 1 line of python code at a time.
def change_the_world(girls_tech): if girls_tech == True: print("Pi a la code is a success") else: print("Let's work to close the gender gap!")