Recently, Salesforce hosted another group of bright young girls — sixth and seventh graders from Frick Middle School — as a part of Techbridge’s mission to inspire girls in underserved communities to discover a passion for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.
What we do:
Every week in their after-school program, Techbridge girls do exciting, hands-on STEM activities, but these lessons get brought to life with the field trips. It’s a great opportunity to inspire girls to consider career paths they might not have otherwise, as well as to picture themselves at a company like Salesforce when they grow up.
The field trip to Salesforce was a chance for a group of 20 girls to meet real-life engineers (both men and women) that work at Salesforce in different technology related roles, and and to demonstrate that writing code isn’t an arcane, impossible thing to learn. As the Women in Technology Outreach group, our main goal in hosting this field trip was to show these girls that coding is accessible to everyone and that engineers aren’t so different from them.
How we do it:
The girls spent half a day at Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco learning how to code as well as meeting cool women in technology, from engineers to technical writers to usability designers, as well as managers, directors, and vice presidents. They were introduced to programming concepts through the peanut butter and jelly pseudocode exercise where they gave instructions to a volunteer who literally executed their instructions, sometimes with messy results!
To build on this concept, we showed them a pair-programming video before pairing them up to solve the Frozen puzzles on the code.org website. This helped them apply the different concepts they had just learned about programming like conditional statements and loops while making Frozen characters, Elsa and Anna, skate on ice!
Seeing the girls putting two and two together–making connections about how to “program” the robot and how to solve the code.org puzzles–was extremely gratifying. The girls also started getting really excited about technology! Plus, they learned that computers can only do what humans tell them to do; if smart humans are instructing the computers, they end up with impressive innovations.
Mid-way through their visit, the girls got to have lunch with role models. They asked even more questions, learning how these women ended up in technology and what they like about it. Our volunteers had the opportunity to connect with the girls and encouraged them to ask questions and explore technology as a potential career option.
The Women in Technology Outreach group is trying to deliver the message that coding isn’t something that a rarefied group of nerdy guys do: Instead, coding is also done by amazing, fun women. It’s not only a fantastic opportunity for girls who otherwise might not be considering a career in STEM, it’s also a fantastic way to inspire them to join the ranks and increase the number of women in computing.
Why we do it:
The first time we hosted girls from Techbridge, we only opened it up to the Women in Technology organization. However, we quickly realized that we needed to include our allies as well. It’s important to get both men and women involved in Techbridge and other volunteer efforts like it because if the girls do pursue a career in computing, they’re going to be working with both men and women. We’re fortunate to have so many Techbridge supporters at Salesforce!
We’re excited that we can partner with Techbridge for these field trips and look forward to the next one. If you would like to to volunteer with Techbridge, you can learn more at http://www.techbridgegirls.org/. They have programs in both San Francisco and Seattle.