Getting Young Women Into STEM Focused Careers – a $10,000 Design Contest
This post was written by Jessie D’Amato Ford – Director of Events and Educational Programs at TopCoder
Have you checked out the Girls in IT report created by NCWIT (National Center for Women in Technology)? If you haven’t yet, here is a visual sneak peak:
Wow, right? Now the above graph is solely focused on computer science, but it’s likely safe to assume that if we visualized the same stats for all aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), we’d recognize the same, underwhelming trend.
The future of our country’s success in technology depends on our young girls and boys getting engaged in STEM right now. They can master smart phones, tablets, the Internet, gaming, and social media but far too few have little knowledge regarding “how” it all works.
I’ve read many reports similar to this one that state many young girls are interested in STEM until about age 12 and then that interest declines due to many social factors. It’s just not cool to be a female math geek in middle school.
It’s just not cool to be a female math geek in middle school. Let’s change that! http://bit.ly/10eiaMT [tweet this]
So how can we, if at all, change this trend? There are many resources out there right now for young girls, many of which I’ve talked about here. Just sharing one of these resources with a middle school student today is a way to help break the cycle, but we want to do more.
As part of the 2013 TopCoder Open, we’ve decided to do something unique. We are putting the call out to designers all over the United States to help us make a change in that chart above.
As mentioned in the challenge introduction video, the gallery of inspirational posters will be on full display for local schoolchildren in Washington D.C. to view and to vote on during the 2013 TopCoder Open. The three winning designs will be printed and shared with schools, libraries, and organizations around the country! Judges include Angela Maiers, Vanessa Hurst, and Evelyn Kim, three distinguished women making an impact in technology and education.
It may just be a poster, but an awesome, inspirational poster just might be the catalyst to an amazing career for a young girl. And who knows, this poster may be so cool that it may be “cool” to be a geek after all!
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image credit: good.is