Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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8/6/2014
11:46 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
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12 STEM Resources For Young Women

Trying to fuel a young woman's interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics? These 12 organizations actively help students pursue STEM-related careers.
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(Image: Argonne National Laboratory)
(Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, and others recently released diversity reports, and the revelations weren't exactly shocking: The tech industry is dominated by white males. These reports have spurred discussions and recriminations.

Adding fuel to the fire is the issue of pay inequality for women and men working in IT. According to the InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey, the median total compensation for a female IT staffer is $81,000. For male counterparts it's $94,000, a difference of $13,000. That's a significant gap. And it's echoed in compensation for managers, with median total compensation for men at $122,000, versus $110,000 for women.

Even so, according to a 2011 report from the US Department of Commerce, women with STEM jobs earned 33% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs -- considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. That means the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.

Other findings from the report were grim:

  • Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the US economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
  • Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
  • Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation. They are more likely to work in education or healthcare.

As educators, government officials, technology executives, and women's groups discuss these issues, a growing number of grassroots organizations are looking to encourage young women to pursue STEM so they can be part of the next generation of tech workers. Here we highlight 12 of these organizations. If you're a tech executive looking to do something about the gender gap, one of these groups could present an opportunity to volunteer your time to help educate and mentor young women and girls. If you'd like to encourage your own daughter to explore STEM opportunities, these organizations can help.

Let us know what you think. Are these organizations on the right track? Are there other groups you wish we'd included? What are your ideas for how to bridge the technology gender gap?

Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2014 | 2:27:12 AM
Re: Black Girls Code
SusanN, 

"I would sincerely doubt that a girl who is not black would be excluded from the group, nor that any other girls STEM groups might exclude black girls."

That means they could all be in the same group and work together. :D 

"Unfortunately, in the U.S. race-based discrimination is as real as gender-based discrimination."

Yes, and it's sad. My point in this discussion is that the founder in not helping that situation in any way. On the contrary; she is contributing to teaching very young girls that in this society they have to create their own groups and stick together without mixing with the other girls who don't look that them. 

Maybe she is trying to help one thing; on the other hand, she is contributing to discrimination all the same at the same time. 

-SusanF

 
elisa513
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elisa513,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2014 | 6:28:35 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
As a young (under 35) Latina female working in IT Security, I can definitely attest to the feeling of being "challenged" or looked down upon. This field is definitely dominated by white, middle-aged males. As a matter of fact, during my entire security career I have been the only woman on staff. Currently I work for a state government agency in the Information Security Office and I am the only woman on a team of 4. I am hopeful, however. The State Information Security Officer for the whole State of California is a woman, and she is someone I definitely look up to. The drive to be highly successful in my career in general, and particularly because I am a Latina female is the reason I have sought to further my education and obtain certifications. If I ever have a daughter, I want her to know beyond a doubt that she can succeed in any field she sets her mind on going into, regardless of her ethnicity or gender. And I want her to see me as an example of that.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/7/2014 | 5:56:33 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
@SusanF: sorry, I saw your second comment after posting ... didn't mean to imply that you hadn't looked at the website. I just think the realities of today's society in the U.S. still make it necessary to have a group like this that can address the unique challenges that black girls face in pursuing STEM careers.

The female friends I have who also happen to be women of color do attest that they feel even doubly challenged in the white male dominated workplace. I can't claim that is a universal feeling, that's  been my experience based on the people I know. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/7/2014 | 5:52:35 PM
Re: 12 STEM Resources For Young Women
@zerox203: Your points are well taken. All the summer camps and science fairs in the world aren't going to make girls and young women like STEM subjects, but for those who do already have an inclination I think these serve a valuable function. The key, as you rightly point out, is to not make it boring--and the only way to do that is for men and women who aremaking their careers in STEM to work on compelling curriculae and activities that show the full breadth and depth of these fields--and to share their own personal enthusiasm for the topics. That kind of enthusiasm is contagious. I know from my own experiences, when I had a math teachter in HS who conveyed pure joy and excitement about trigonometry I did better in the class (which was my second go-round because I failed my first try at trig with a different teacher).

It also starts in the home. My dad was a tech enthusiast and he involved me in his home projects from as early as I can remember, even appointing me the "helper" when he had to make minor fixes to the family car. Exposing girls and boys alike to such experiences is crucial.

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/7/2014 | 5:45:47 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
@susanF: Does this mean that white girls are not allowed there if they would be interested in this particular project? Does it mean they had to create this project because girls of color were not allowed in a White Girls Code project? 

These are valid questions, and I would sincerely doubt that a girl who is not black would be excluded from the group, nor that any other girls STEM groups might exclude black girls.

Based on what the organization's founder is saying, her goal is to specifically reach out to young women and girls of color who may face particularly unique challenges in the STEM field that are additive to the challenges they face as women in the first place.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. race-based discrimination is as real as gender-based discrimination.

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/7/2014 | 5:41:57 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
@averonica: yes, that pretty well answers SusanF's question. Thank you. 
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/7/2014 | 4:53:16 PM
Re: 12 STEM Resources For Young Women
This is a great list, Susan, and while this topic is oft-talked-about, the divide persists in spite of that... so there's always room to talk about it more. I would never fault any organization or any individual for starting a program like these, but I question their usefulness individually. As a male who works in STEM now, I'll say that we had plenty of unisex programs like these in my school system and my community growing up... and they all looked boring as hell, and I avoided them like the plague.  Thomas is right to point out that we may have an even more difficult time convincing relucant girls to try these programs due to preconceptions. I think the initiatives to get computers in girls' hands are more useful than the ones to build gimmicky robots or what-have-you.

I don't know what the solution is on this front. I suppose nothing can surpass the parents' role in the process. You can say it's the school system's responsibility to do a better job getting girls into STEM (and it is), but that doesn't matter if that's not being reinforced at home. All the programs in the world don't matter if the parents don't enroll their kids in them/encourage them/pay for them/etc. Maybe that's a long-winded way of saying 'it's everyone's job', but ultimately that's the truth. It's great to have corporate and government backing to these programs, but if we want to see a change, we have to make a contribution ourselves.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/7/2014 | 2:09:29 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
averonica, 

Before posting my comment I read the Website's Home page, the About page, and watched the video. I don't use to post a comment without reading first. 

It didn't convince me there is a real good reason for dividing girls according to "color" in the 21st century, when adults should be encouraging children to respect their physical differences and learn and work together. 

-Susan 
averonica
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averonica,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2014 | 12:13:09 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
Susan, I suggest reading Black Girls Code's about page. http://www.blackgirlscode.com/about-bgc.html
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/7/2014 | 9:03:59 AM
Black Girls Code
SusanN, 

What a nice list! I have only one question about one of the projects: "Black Girls Code, launched in 2011, aims to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages seven to seventeen to become innovators in STEM fields, ... " 

Why does this project focus only on girls of color instead of, for example, be Girls Code? I think this is wrong.

Does this mean that white girls are not allowed there if they would be interested in this particular project? Does it mean they had to create this project because girls of color were not allowed in a White Girls Code project? 

-Susan
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