In research published in the journal Science, it was revealed that parents and teachers consistently believe that boys are better at math.
According to Janet Hyde, the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who led the study, this “keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology."
The study went on to conclude that the numbers are changing, but very slowly. Forty-eight percent of undergraduate college degrees in math are now earned by women, but girls still lag far behind in fields like physics and engineering. Additionally, Code.org reports that only 12% of U.S. Computer Science undergraduates are female despite the fact that half the population is female. (See more STEM education stats here.)
At iD Tech, we acknowledge this pervasive gender gap in STEM and have long been dedicated to creating inclusive learning environments that bring out the best in both girls and boys.
In fact, our company was founded by two women, which is somewhat unique in the tech metropolis of Silicon Valley, CA. Over 60% of our year-round workforce is female. They are technical spec writers, QA testers, product designers, project managers, videographers, web developers, graphic designers…the possibilities are endless.
Similarly, over half of our summer camp staff is female. They’re experts in everything from programming to game design, to photography and robotics engineering.
We know that the female perspective is vital, and getting more girls in STEM is beyond important. Our goal is to help balance the scales by inspiring girls to dream BIG.
Alexa Café is one of our newest program offerings, and has since become the nation's leading (and largest) summer tech camp just for girls.
The success of the program is largely due to our stellar summer staff members who are so much more than instructors--they're inspirational mentors, motivators, and friends to girls across the nation.
It's from them we take cues on how to inspire, motivate, and encourage more girls to get into STEM.
How to Inspire Girls in STEM
- Shatter stereotypes
- Surround girls with those who have STEM experience
- Mix style with substance
- Unlock power of collaboration
- Combine tech and philanthropy
- Introduce girls to role models
- Aim for consistency
- Encourage girls to follow dreams
1. Shatter stereotypes and instill self-confidence.
The days of associating all things techie with boys are long gone (for instance, yes, girls play video games). Alexa Café instructors personify the traits (confidence, boldness, thoughtfulness) and possess the skills (technical knowledge, teamwork, leadership, entrepreneurship) your daughter will need to succeed in fields like software engineering, video game design, filmmaking, and more. Our instructors show girls what it entails to be a strong, successful woman in tech in 2018.
2. Surround them with those who have industry experience.
Many Alexa Café instructors are STEM majors or graduates who work in fields like computer science, graphic design, game development, and more. They know what it's like to pursue a technical degree and can share insider tips and other information about majors and careers of interest.
3. Mix style with substance.
From the fresh, inviting decor to the unique, fun, and tech-savvy staff, Alexa Café provides an experience that's unlike anything else. Whether your daughter is taking a course in coding, game design, or 3D printing, our instructors will emphasize the importance of aesthetics and how they can be used to enhance the awesome technical and/or philanthropic aspects of a project. They know that projects should function perfectly and look stunning!
4. Unlock the power of collaboration.
Teamwork can take a project to a whole new level! Alexa Café staffers are experts when it comes to helping girls communicate their ideas and collaborate in small clusters. When girls learn to rely on one another for troubleshooting, problem-solving, and extra inspiration, there's no end to what they can achieve.
5. Combine tech with philanthropy to create positive change.
One of the main things that sets Alexa Café apart from other tech programs is the emphasis on philanthropy and "1-for-1" social movements. Our instructors encourage girls to dig deep as they brainstorm project ideas in order to determine how they can use technology to make a positive impact in their local communities and beyond. We've found that combining tech with philanthropy resonates with many girls, allowing them to see the broader impacts of their efforts while maintaining their interest.
6. Introduce them to female entrepreneurs and role-models.
At numerous Alexa Café locations, staff members reach out to local female tech industry professionals and entrepreneurs and have them come speak at camp. A few summers ago, Pree Walia and Casey Schulz, co-founders and heads of startup Preemadonna, visited Alexa Cafe held at Palo Alto High School. The girls LOVED learning about what it takes to start a company from the ground up!
7. Instill consistency.
If your daughter attended camp last summer and is returning this year, don't be surprised if she sees some friendly, familiar faces! Often times, Alexa Café instructors return summer after summer to help returning students further develop their talents and to introduce new students to the exciting world of tech! We hire staff members who are incredibly motivated to serve as mentors and help girls reach their full potential, and our retention rate is high.
8. Encourage them to follow their dreams and give the tools to pursue their own.
Alexa Café staffers work with us because they're passionate about STEM, possess awesome technical ability, and genuinely love empowering the younger generation of girls to dream and achieve BIG. With the right combination of tech skills, style, humor, social awareness, inspiration, and friendship, our instructors show girls that anything is possible and that any college and career aspirations are within reach.