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8/6/2014
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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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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/6/2014 | 1:11:54 PM
Related story
Important for women in STEM to get out there and show young women they can do it, too. See our related story: Gender Judo on salary negotiation tactics for women.
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
8/6/2014 | 2:38:18 PM
Re: Related story
@Laurianne: The judo link was a good one. I hope someday everyone (male/female) will have the equal in everything. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/6/2014 | 2:51:21 PM
Re: Related story
@Zaious: Hear hear! There is no logical reason for any one group to have less success or fewer opportunities than any other group. I do hope we'll see a day when true meritocracy is achieved.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/6/2014 | 2:56:50 PM
Re: Related story
@zaious glad you liked the Judo article. I thought Joan Williams had good advice for men and women.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/6/2014 | 2:49:54 PM
Re: Related story
@Laurianne: Yep, the Gender Judo holds lessons for many people, not just in IT and not just women. I do hope that some of our community members will be inspired by these groups to take an active roel in mentoring girls and young women for STEM careers.

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/6/2014 | 2:53:11 PM
Are you a mentor?
If you're involved in any mentoring programs to encourage kids to pursue STEM careers -- or help folks already in the field to advance their careers -- we'd love to hear about your experiences. Please share with us in the comments here.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/6/2014 | 4:48:51 PM
Re: Are you a mentor?
Mentoring of a sort...As the father of two daughters, encouraging them to take an interest in STEM learning doesn't always work. They often are deterred by preconceptions. It appears that just throwing them into tech-oriented projects is the way to go. My fourteen-year-old enjoys drawing but was disinterested in learning Adobe Illustrator, until I enrolled her in a summer camp at TechShop. She had to learn Illustrator to make patterns for the laser cutter. It changed her outlook on computer drawing software.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/6/2014 | 5:21:08 PM
Re: Are you a mentor?
@Thomas: Mentoring your own kids definitely counts, thanks for sharing that. One of the challenges, according to some edicuators, is helping girls and young women understand how much creativity plays a role in STEM careers. As you rightly note, a lot of that is socialized in that we tend to think of things as right-brain and left-brain activities. 

Can you tell us more about TechShop in case others might want to explore for their kids?
Rich Krajewski
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Rich Krajewski,
User Rank: Ninja
8/6/2014 | 9:30:37 PM
Re: Things will be
Here's a picture from William Mitchell Law School:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can we convince these women that they really want to go into STEM instead of law?
Rich Krajewski
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Rich Krajewski,
User Rank: Ninja
8/6/2014 | 9:36:27 PM
Re: Things will be
Here's a picture from the tech writing program at Duke:




The majority are women. Who is responsible for this, I would like to know?
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
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 | 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 
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. 
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 Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2014 | 4:17:28 AM
Re: Black Girls Code
SusanN, 

"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."

Today the IT workplace is white male dominated. How is it going to be like in 20 years' time when these seven-year-old girls join the workforce? To get there with some kind of change the work needs to be done today. I truly don't believe the right way of doing it is putting those little girls in a box so early in their life. Those are the women of the future, and future IT women.

It's Okay if there is no agreement with what I think. I just don't like to put people in boxes because I hate it if people do that to me. Boxing and labeling people is not my thing. That's not the way of creating diversity. Well, this is just from my point of view and my thinking.  

-SusanF 
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. 
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 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

 
KimberlyB592
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KimberlyB592,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2014 | 3:50:53 PM
Re: Black Girls Code
Hi Susan,

This is Kimberly the founder and executive director of Black Girls CODE. A friend and colleague alerted me to this discussion and although I don't normally reply to such threads I feel that it is important to address your concerns. You've been rightly directed to read our mission and vision for BGC by other posters as it clearly points out "why" we focus on this critical demographic on girls of color. We are the MOST underrepresented in the tech industry. Whereas women currently hold about 30% of jobs in technology, people of color only hold about 2-3% (this is not a representation of the number of women of color but includes men). However if you did a bit more homework you would see that girls of ALL colors attend our workshops across the US and even in Africa. We welcome all girls with a very clear focus on outreach and recruitment of girls of color for the reasons stated above. Do a little more research.

 

Now this being said as you noted in one of your posts, if we welcome all girls why can't they all learn together? I'm making an assumption here that you mean in an organization that does not have a specific focus on girls of color? Or at the least does not call itself as such? Well the reason is that simply these organizations are not reaching this target demographic. Even when they have a mission focus for reaching underrepresented communities they have failed at being adequately able to tap into this market. We have reached almost 3000 students to date in a little less than three years. That's incredible for a young organization such as ours and speaks volumes to the unmet and real need in communities of color.

But again why did I personally found an organization such as Black Girls CODE? It is because as a woman of color who is a trained engineer with 30+ years in corporate america with a young budding tech daughter I am acutely aware that your concerns and challenges as a woman in technology and industry are not always the same as mine. The intersection of both race and gender have had an indelible impact on my journey as a woman of color and many of the interventions intended for a larger audience did very little to address my personal story and those for girls like my daughter. Our program is not meant to exclude but to empower with the belief that a rising tide lifts all ships. There are programs for girls overall, there are co-ed programs, there are programs that target black/latino males. They all serve a purpose which is eradicating the divide and opening opportunities for ALL youth. But programs such as BGC also serve a purpose to reach the specific less "technical" needs to foster self-esteem and acceptance for girls of color in a society in which they are often overlooked and forgotten. This is why we exist.

It is my expectation that these girls (and they do) will leave our program empowered and go back into the broader community with both skills and talents which will allow them to use technology for all and bridge the divide. This is what "we" do.

I hope that helps you understand our mission and focus better. And I'd welcome you to reach out to me specifically for further discussion.


Regards,

Kimberly Bryant

Founder, Black Girls CODE
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 8:47:46 AM
Re: Black Girls Code
Hi, Kimberly

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply to my questions. I appreciate it. My questions may seem silly, but in fact, they can go deeper in discussion if we go to the roots and history of why there is a need still today for a group focused on girls of color. 

"Whereas women currently hold about 30% of jobs in technology, people of color only hold about 2-3% (this is not a representation of the number of women of color but includes men)."

The percentage is really shocking. I would have assumed it was higher. There is so much need today for solving issues of gender and race not only in the workplace, but also in society as a whole. Diversity is what should be more common today after all what history has taught us. Hoewever, it seems everything has changed so little in such a long time. 

I do understand your mission, your goal, and your wish to help these young girls become great professionals in computer science and technology in the future. I just wish there wouldn't be a need for a specific group dedicated to girls of color because other groups are not helping as they should. That is my main point, and what I was trying to argue. It's not about doing homework, but about my thinking.

I have checked the Website, and watched several videos you have there, too. There is no doubt your work is great and impressive, and you have done so such a short time that BGC has existed.

I believe my main problem is trying to figure out if being in a dedicated, homogeneous group will not contribute to the girls, or boys growing up in a kind of thinking that encourages discrimination. Yet, I see your points, and obviously, you know more than how it really is to fight this fight than what I can know, or even imagine. 

Kimberly, I don't want you to misunderstand me. In fact, I support you, see your work, and appreacite what you do. I just wish things were different in the 21st century for these girls.

-Susan
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_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.

 
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2014 | 5:09:33 PM
The problem is sexist employers
Proponents can advocate all they want to get more females into the STEM industry, but that's not the problem.  The problem is that employers don't want to hire anyone who is **not** male or under age 25. 
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Moderator
8/11/2014 | 3:25:22 PM
Re: 12 STEM Resources for Young Women
These are wonderful programs for girls. I am actively involved in the Girl Scouts STEM Programs and believe these programs give girls an exposure to experiences they would have never had a chance to try.   
JaimieM272
IW Pick
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JaimieM272,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/11/2014 | 4:28:44 PM
Great Information
Susan, this is a great article with some good information that I hope parents will use to engage their children in new activities. In Portland I am part of a group called ChickTech, they have an amazing program to help high school girls explore their capabilities. What I really love about ChickTech is their focus isn't on the compensation or gender gap but more about the child and what they might accomplish if given an opportunity. 

Thanks again for sharing, 

Jaimie 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
8/12/2014 | 11:54:41 AM
Re: Great Information
ChickTech -- love it, Jaimie. Focus on making the tech pursuit cool.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/26/2014 | 7:21:03 PM
Re: Great Information
@Jaimie: Fantastic, We have a Baker's Dozen with your group added to the list. How long has ChickTech been operating? Can you tell us more about your experiences working with high school girls who are interested in STEM?

Also--any advice for parents in helping daughters develop their STEM interests?
JaimieM272
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JaimieM272,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2014 | 7:37:30 PM
Re: Great Information
@Susan, Thanks for asking here is a link to my blog about my experience and also the Chicktech web address. Please check it out and if ever there is an opportunity to provide more awareness please reach out to me. I love the innovation ChickTech brings to the table, they continue to encourage high school students to think and challenge themselves. We don't always have to do things the way we have done them, great ideas are how we have gotten this far. 

www.chicktech.org

www.edgelink.com/edgelink-charity/edgelink-supports-chicktech-midsummer-picnic/
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 6:42:42 PM
Re: Great Information
@JamieM272: Thank you for sharing that additional info. I was pleased to note that you are looking for volunteers right here in SF for your October event.

Attention IW community! if you want to get involved in a STEM resource for young women, here's what Chicktech needs for its October event:

Are you in the Bay Area? Would you like to help us expand to San Francisco? Our kickoff event is scheduled for Oct 11-12, 2014 at SFSU. We are looking for partners, sponsors, and volunteers who would like to be part of the team that brings ChickTech to your area!

Please Keep us posted, Jamie on how things progress with this event and others.
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