TechGirlz founder and Chariot Solutions Chief Marketing Officer, Tracey Welson-Rossman, recently sat down with researcher, Wendy DuBow, to discuss the findings of a fascinating study from The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). They discussed how middle school STEM education increases the likelihood of girls’ participation in high school, college and ultimately a career in tech. The article also discussed how parents and schools can engage young women nationwide, preparing for them to excel in our technology-dependent workforce. The full article was originally posted on August 26, 2019 as a contribution for Leadership | ForbesWomen.
DuBow said beyond the longitudinal nature of this study and its spanning high school through college and into the start of a career, it was also unusual because it included young women from all over the country and with a wide variety of computing experiences. The convergence of the key takeaways then helped reinforce which factors were most importance in support girls in tech.
- More programming classes at the high school level that actively recruits girls and provide an on-ramp to instruction;
- Teaching classes in an inclusive way that resonates with female students;
- Rigorous computer programs and courses available outside of traditional schools that either supplement existing coursework or provide an alternative when schools do not offer formal computer programs;
- Encouragement from teachers and parents is vital to providing girls with the support and reinforcement that will help sustain their interest;
- Counselors serve a key role in providing girls with access to classes and the encouragement to try them;
- Girls must learn that tech careers demand more than just coding skills…companies value those with problem solving and creative talents;
- Show girls that technology careers exist within multiple industries, sometimes within those about which they may already be interested or passionate;
- It’s vital that women in technology or those with technology interests serve as mentors and role models for girls.
For DuBow, the biggest takeaway was a message of hope. Despite studies showing that most girls drift away from STEM courses in middle school, she found reason to believe that girls could find or rediscover a passion for technology in high school. For those that are interested in tech courses, many retain that interest all the way through the start of a career when the above factors are present.
And this is vital because the changing nature of work in America has made technology a key part of nearly every industry and job in the future workforce. […]
Check out the full summary from NCWIT’s Bridging the Encouragement Gap research here.