Fems for STEM
The National Center for Women and Information Technology recently reported that that African-American and Latina women make up only 3 percent and 1 percent respectively of the computing and medical workforce. In 2011, there was only one Native American woman to earn her degree in computer science. This is a serious, sad issue and it is our job as the next generation to change this for the better.
Yet, it is hard to face the problem when the schools are starting it. Research demonstrates that structural barriers "often prevent individuals from historically marginalized groups from achieving their full potential," often in the forms of racial profiling and discrimination. Because of these barriers, it has been proven that areas with higher percentages of black, Hispanic, and Native American people are less likely to provide their students with access to programs other than word processing and Powerpoint. Higher income communities, oppositely, provide students not only with new technology, but also with the opportunities to create it.
UCLA's Jane Margolis believes that "girls are too often discouraged by their male counterparts and teachers from enrolling in such 'difficult' classes [on computing and medicine]."
From this discouragement and discrimination came CompuGirls - an organization dedicated to engaging girls in a rigorous informal educational setting to teach them coding, computers, and medical technology. Founded at Arizona State University in 2007, CompuGirls accepts 10-40 girls at a time that take classes in specific computer and engineering fields to help them become motivated about those careers.
Statistically, women have far less of a chance at succeeding in the STEM fields than men. We are glad that organizations like CompuGirls and The Wannabe Scientist are making science, well, cool!