Teaming Up to Support Young Women in STEM

by Sloane Grinspoon
August 17, 2016

Last month, the National STEM Video Game Challenge co-hosted a game design workshop with Black Girls CODE, a non-profit that leads coding and technology workshops for young women of color across the country. More than 50 girls  attended the workshop to learn the basics of game design, teaming up to create both physical and digital games over the course of the day. Check out highlights from the event in this brief video.

Caught a big smile on one of today's attendees as she rolled a perfect score during game testing!

Caught a big smile from one of our attendees as she rolled a perfect score during game testing!

In the growing push to ensure early and ongoing exposure to STEM education for young people in the United States, Black Girls CODE is addressing the disproportionate underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM head on. They work closely with dedicated volunteers from various STEM fields to send a clear message to the girls they mentor—dream big. At the joint workshop, volunteers encouraged attendees to think beyond stereotypical careers and tap into natural interests in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Attendees listened intently

Attendees listened intently as volunteers shared how their work related to STEM learning.

During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama spoke of the glass ceiling standing between women and the highest office in the United States for generations. For many, advancement as a woman and/or minority in STEM fields remains a challenge.

Two attendees shared what they learned in the workshop: cooperation and game design.

Silicon Valley is no exception, as evidenced by the disproportionately high rate of males hired for STEM jobs. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs, despite the influx of college educated women into the workforce over the past decade. The numbers are stark for minority women. According to a study by the National Science Foundation, minority women comprise about 1 in 10 of currently employed scientists and engineers.

Many believe these disparities are due in part to the fact that fewer minority women come through the education pipeline with degrees relevant to STEM fields. While a myriad of factors may contribute to this phenomenon, it’s evident that encouraging young minority women to pursue STEM careers early on is of critical importance. Organizations like Black Girls CODE and the National STEM Video Game Challenge are hopeful that early exposure and support will leave young women more likely to develop an interest in STEM fields and pursue careers in the STEM realm.

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