Moving the needle for girls and women in STEM
Girls may doubt their ability to pursue STEM careers as early as 6 years old. The barrier to closing the gender gap within our tech community starts well before any technical education or introduction to the possibilities within a tech career.
The gap is well known - in 2017, 26% of professional computing occupations in the U.S. were held by women, according to NCWIT - and yet the scope and need for engagement with girls and women from early education through career mentoring is lesser known.
Colorado Technology Association (CTA) is the state lead for the Million Women Mentors initiative, which aligns with our goal to grow a skilled, diverse tech workforce. It’s one of several key efforts in Colorado to put a focus on mentorship. Education and training are critical to making it within tech, but mentorship can provide the confidence needed to enter the field, and often, to stay in the field.
The advice, perspectives and experiences shared by mentors can make the difference in the lives of countless girls and women, no matter where they are in the journey. We all can do our part to provide mentorship so that girls and women take an interest in STEM and then grow in their careers.
Here are a few mentor-focused efforts in Colorado that you can plug into today:
Million Women Mentors is a nationwide movement supporting the engagement of millions of STEM mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers by 2020. The goals of Million Women Mentors are to 1) Increase the percentage of high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers, 2) Increase the percentage of young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM fields and 3) Increase the percentage of women staying and advancing in STEM careers through supporting workforce mentoring programs.
Last year, CTA launched SheTech Explorer Day Colorado and hosted nearly 60 girls to interact with STEM industry leaders in workshops, activities and a tech challenge. We want to expose girls to careers in STEM and get them excited for what a career in tech can look like. We are gearing up for our second SheTech event this fall, and we welcome anyone interested in participating to reach out to us.
Couragion, founded in Colorado, helps diverse populations of students explore STEM careers through a fun and engaging application with videos, games, and self-reflection quizzes.
Girls in STEM exposes Colorado middle school and high school female students to careers in tech through events, job shadows, tech company field trips and more. They also aim to provide information, guidance and support for potential scholarships and internships.