If you’re a girl 12 or older, chances are you are NOT going to be an engineer! That is according to Techbridge who have found that most girls opt out of a career or even a study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) by FIFTH GRADE.
Yep, most girls polled think an engineer looks like this guy! So we need to catch them early to make sure this preconceived stereotype doesn’t prevent girls from exploring and experiencing science and technology at its most funnest! (apologies to anyone over 12 reading this!)
Members of salesforce.com’s Women in Technology worked with Techbridge to stage a one-day field trip to the San Francisco HQ offices for twenty seven 5th-grade girls.
Techbridge is a not-for-profit organization: “The mission of Techbridge is to both promote girls’ interest and skills in science, technology, and engineering through multi-faceted programs, as well as to develop resources for teachers, role models, families and partners. Since its founding by Chabot Space & Science Center in 2000, Techbridge has served over 5,000 girls in grades 5-12. Our goal is to change girls’ lives, by increasing their choices for the future through consistent, personal support.”
All our visiting girls were students at Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy and the Esperanza Elementary School in Oakland, CA. Held on January 31, 2013, the day included sessions in learning about cyber security and sorting algorithms, participating in a salesforce.com scavenger hunt, and pairing up with 20 enthusiastic and engaged salesforce.com mentors who shared a pizza lunch with the girls.
The cyber security session we held was in alignment with Techbridge’s teaching goals for responsible Internet behavior. The kids learned about protecting personal information on the Internet using a cyber security game developed by Carnegie Mellon University. Students from the CMU Silicon Valley satellite campus also participated in the workshop. The sorting activity taught the kids about sorting in a fun and interactive manner (they got to play a game where THEY were the items being sorted). The scavenger hunt allowed the girls to see what the working environment of a technology company can be like (there are many fun things on the desks and common areas of salesforce.com HQ!). The lunch with the mentors allowed one-on-one attention – the girls asked the mentors about their lives and careers, offering a great opportunity to show how accessible a career in tech can be. Each girl received all the mentor bios ahead of time—some of them even picked out their faves (dog ownership was a popular differentiator!) to find and ask questions. And the mentors got a short bio of each girl—so everyone had plenty to talk about at lunch. At the end of the day the girls got some fun salesforce.com and CMU swag, along with a group photo to take home as a souvenir.
All of this was aimed at reinforcing the idea that technology and computer science can be cool and fun… and the girls agreed! This day of community outreach was also aligned with the Salesforce.com Foundation’s 1/1/1 integrated philanthropy approach of sharing our time, technology, and resources.
Now that we have the program created, we hope to build on our success and realize more ROI by repeating it with other schools. Our partnership with Techbridge resulted in an awesome experience for both the girls and the mentors.
We had over twenty five Salesforce.com volunteers who made this day possible. We would like to thank each and everyone one of them for their time and effort in making the day so special for the girls.