Tesla and Envirolution recently hosted an Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and provided the students with hands-on engineering activities.
Programs like Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day have helped give girls and young women a first-hand look at what it's like to be a part of the workforce. According to the US Department of Labor, more than half of the overall US workforce (57%) is comprised of women; however, they currently only make up about 26% of computer and mathematical occupations, and an even smaller percentage (12.7%) are involved in engineering positions. STEM programs, which include Black Girls Code, Code.org, #BUILTBYGIRLS, and Techbridge Girls, are empowering school-aged females with the skills and passion for technology necessary to work in tech positions.
SEE: IT leader's guide to achieving workplace diversity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
These organizations are not alone in their efforts—some tech companies are doing their part to invest in the future female workforce. Tesla and Envirolution partnered on February 21, 2019 to host Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a national event intended to "show girls how engineering can be a great career choice and a great way to change the world," according to Tesla. The event was held in various locations: Tesla's Gigafactory 1 in Reno, NV, its facility in Fremont, CA, as well as sites in Livermore, CA, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, NV.
This year, over 200 students participated in the event, which was guided by about 80 Tesla employees. Students took part in hands-on electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering activities like building simple motors, suspension bridges, and balloon-propelled cars. According to Tesla, the company is "committed to increasing female students' exposure to manufacturing and engineering," and organizing events like this one is just one step it's taking to further that mission.
A study by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and ProtectWise found that K-12 STEM programs have a direct influence on schooling choices, anticipated studies in college, and the types of careers these students consider. The study surveyed 524 tech-savvy Millennials and showed that 48% of participants had been part of a STEM program during their K-12 education. Of those participants, 23% cited Computer Science (CS) and Technology (e.g., computer engineering) as their intended college major, with 15% planning to major in Engineering.
Girls Who Code provides education and training in engineering and CS fields, and their alumni declare majors in CS, or related fields, at a rate of 15 times the national average. The organization focuses on historically underrepresented groups—50% of the girls served are black, Latina, or from low-income households.
SEE: How tech companies can recruit and retain more women (TechRepublic)
According to sister site CNET, "girls often face obstacles in pursuing STEM education. More than a quarter of middle school girls and a fifth of high school girls say they're too embarrassed to ask questions in class," according to findings by Microsoft and KRC Research. The study also found that 32% of middle school and 35% of high school girls don't feel supported by teachers and classmates.
That's why these organizations, education events like Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, and other similar sponsored initiatives are so important. By inspiring more girls to be interested in STEM fields and demonstrating through active engagement that engineering and jobs in tech are a viable career option for women, the gender gap that prevails in STEM fields can begin to shrink.
Want to get involved?
- The state of women in computer science: An investigative report (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Hiring kit: Chief diversity officer (Tech Pro Research)
- Women in tech: 20 stories of women doing big things with their tech skills (TechRepublic)
- Girl Scouts to train next generation of cybersecurity, AI, and robotics professionals (TechRepublic)
- Video: How women are being motivated to pursue STEM (ZDNet)
- Closing the gender gap in the tech industry (CBS News)
- Women in tech: Solving for XX (CNET)
- Women in Tech (TechRepublic on Flipboard)