STEM Mentoring Programs for Girls, African Americans and Hispanics

STEM Mentoring Programs Invite Girls of Color into the Industy

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The Department of Education has developed programs to improve access to STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education for girls and black and Latino students.

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Since 2001, the percentage of women working in STEM fields like computing and traditional engineering has been stagnant, while percentages of African Americans and Latinos continue to shrink.

A recent report by Change the Equation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes STEM education, identified a “diversity dilemma” in STEM professions.

The reports states, African Americans and Latinos have surged as a percentage of the U.S. population, but their share of critical STEM jobs has barely budged. In fact, African Americans and Latinos were less likely to pursue careers in engineering, computer science, or advanced manufacturing in 2014, than they were in the past.

Leaders of STEM-oriented companies are worried about the diversity of their workforce, said Linda Rosen, Change the Equation’s chief executive officer, to the New York Daily News.

The department of education, as well as community organizations, such as, Black Girls Code, a mentoring group for young black girls, introduces computer coding lessons to girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as TouchDevelop, Scratch or Ruby on Rails.

Hands on mentoring programs, encourage girls and all children of color to engage in STEM opportunities before graduating from high school.

“I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”, said Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black girls Code” via a statement on the group’s website. “I am in search of the next (black) Mark Zuckerberg. Above all I am hopeful that she will forge a new pathway towards innovation and social impact that will change the equation for future generations of black and brown creators and leaders in technology. It is a mission that is long overdue.”

Initiatives like, the Software Engineering Pilot, a New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE)comprehensive, standards-aligned computer science and software engineering education program for grades 6 to 12, gives access to hands-on computer science learning to more than 2,600 middle and high school students. Schools also host events with representatives from high profile companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and organizations like Girls Who Code to introduce students to professionals in the field.

The NYC DOE is currently seeking companies and organizations to host high school students for a six-week job shadow program called “Pathfinders”. The intensive will expose students to potential career paths while offering context for their school work.

Also, starting this year, New York City’s new Science Research Mentoring Consortium will provide STEM mentoring programs for 300 talented students at 11 city learning institutions, including five City University of New York research programs.