Noemi R.

Girls For Tech: Social Media Campaign

The Problem

When looking at the source of the lack of women in the tech industry, we can be overwhelmed by the large number of possibilities. One major reason for this gender difference falls back to young girls who may not even be aware of the opportunities available for them in the expanding tech career field. Often times, young  girls don’t even consider entering into tech careers because of deeply entrenched stereotypes that the jobs are anti-social and unimaginative (Miller, 2014). According to study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), high school age girls believe that high school computing belongs to boys who have been using computers and playing computer games since they were in elementary school. Because of this universal stereotype, many young girls lack the desire to participate in computer science activities. Only 18.5% of high school girls take the AP computer science exam. In 2013, only 14% of all computer science graduates were women, which is down from 36% in 1984 (Tiku, 2014).

The Goal

The goal is to tackle this problem by spreading awareness that there are opportunities for young girls in tech through social media platforms. My hope is to gain a significant following by working through databases from local female empowerment initiatives. One such initiative is an organization called The Fairy Godmother Project. This project seeks to empower young women to recognize their own significance and pushes them to make wise choices. In pairing with groups like this, as well as hands-on STEM and technology training through Dr. Cristal Glangchai’s Venture Labs, the most optimistic outcome of this solution would be that young girls from all over the city would become more involved in technology classes and have a more positive view of pursuing tech careers in the future.

Realistically, this solution may only be able to reach a small handful of young women, but the effect can make a difference, even if it is only one young lady. By including strong female role models in the campaign, the goal is to have someone relatable and  appealing that can help illuminate their minds to the endless possibilities in the tech industry.

The Solution

The solution is to target high school age girls through social media such as, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, in order to begin raising awareness of the misconceptions about tech careers. For many of these young girls, this may be the first time that anyone even suggested they pursue a career in technology. One of the major features of the campaign would include posting about startling facts about the industry through visual statistics. Another feature would be providing information on Venture Labs and The Fairy God Mother Project, as well as provide examples of successful everyday women in the tech industry.

After creating the pages and accounts for the different social media platforms, I was able to gain a small following in a short amount of time with close to 50 followers on Instagram, 5 likes on the Facebook Page, and 10 followers on Twitter.

Here are some examples from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:

IMG_6675 IMG_6671


Works Cited

American Association of University Women. (2000). Tech-Savvy: Educating girls in the new computer age.Washington, DC: Author

Miller, C. (2014, April 5). Technology’s Man Problem. New York Times.

Tiku, N. (2014). How to Get Girls Into Coding. Retrieved December 8, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/how-to-get-girls-into-coding.html?_r=2

First Time Coder

Coding screenshot

Starting out the coding lesson, everything was new to me. I had never before attempted to code. The tutorial I chose was HTML & CSS, because it seemed just a tad bit more familiar than the others were (I had seen “HTML” before…somewhere).

I actually found that the programming language was easier than I had imagined it would be. In the HTML course, the instructions were pretty straightforward and had helpful hints to enlighten me along the way. Much of the terminology was pretty literal and obvious like <head> or <body> for headings and body paragraphs.

I would actually like to continue using this site and take a crack at building my own website. I found it to be extremely helpful and it could be a potential skill for future employment. The instruction is pretty plain and easy to understand. I would definitely recommend Code Academy to anyone who is just starting out, especially for my friends who already have some sort of understanding when it comes to computers. It might be little difficult for my parents to understand because there is already an expected level of computer knowledge. For my parents and others like them, they may want to start out with a computer literacy class first.

Why Women Leave Tech Careers

We often hear of the shortage of women in the science, engineering, and technical (SET) fields and it is easy to be discouraged by such dismal statements. However, we are wrong to assume that these smart, tech-savvy women are not attracted to this career field. In fact between the ages of 25 and 30, 41% of the young talent with credentials in science and technology are female.[1] This is surprising news, given the fact that we tend to underestimate how many women are in these fields. And yet, of these women more than half leave their careers in their mid-30s to early 40s. Why is that?

In an interview with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, President of the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York, Hewlett re-examines some of the factors that contribute to this claim. Hewlett is best known for her work on a research project called the Athena Factor[2], a global study that examines the career trajectories of women in these SET fields. The study found that women are instrumental to the industry, often more likely to than their male counterparts to value contributing to society. So what happens later on down the road for these women? The falling out happens through what Hewlett outlines as 5 key factors or “antigens” that include: hostile macho cultures, isolation, mysterious career paths, systems of risk and reward, and extreme work pressures.[3]

Each of these adversities are problems that cannot always be addressed so easily, especially when it comes to changing the ingrained mindsets of the macho culture. The manner in which women are treated branches out through these instilled stereotypes. In order for women to overcome these issues, I believe that there must be more women in leadership, who in turn mentor the younger, entry-level women who are in danger of feeling “stuck or stalled” in these fields. If there were more respected female role models in higher positions, the younger women would be more inclined to stick through the negativity because there would be a clearer picture of what their own careers could achieve.

[1] Melymuka, K. (2008, June 16). Why Women Quit Technology. Computerworld. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://www.computerworld.com/article/2551969/it-careers/why-women-quit-technology.html

[2] CTI Athena 2.0 Launch. (2014). YouTube. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=farVyP3vgBA

[3] Hewlett, S. A. (2008). The Athena factor: reversing the brain drain in science, engineering, and technology. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Women and Technology in the 1990s

This view from the space shuttle's window inspired Sally Ride to found EarthKAM. She wanted students all over the world to share the incredible learning experience of observing our planet from space.

This view from the space shuttle’s window inspired Sally Ride to found EarthKAM. She wanted students all over the world to share the incredible learning experience of observing our planet from space.

https://earthkam.ucsd.edu/activities. Posted by Sally Ride EarthKAM.

In the mid-90s, Dr. Sally Ride founded Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students), a NASA educational outreach program that enables students, teachers, and thPortable cell phone ad from the 1990se public to learn about Earth from the unique perspective of space.

For more information, go to the website for Sally Ride’s EarthKam.

Consumer Electronics Show, 1990

Consumer Electronics Show, 1990 (Associated Press)

http://www.thewire.com/technology/2014/01/can-you-tell-difference-between-actual-ces-product-and-thing-we-made/356815/. Posted by Philip Bump. Jan 8, 2014.

CES, Consumer Electronic Show,  is a world renowned electronics and technology trade show that attracts major companies and industry innovators and professionals.

For more information, check out the website for CES.

Martha Evens at a seminar on Women and Computer Science, 1992.

Martha Evens at a seminar on Women and Computer Science, 1992.

http://science.iit.edu/computer-science/about/history/history-computer-science-department-1990s. Posted by Illinois Institute of Technology.

At the Illinois Institute of Technology, Professor Martha Evens discussed topics such as the number of women in CS, the societal pressures, and the unconscious pressures that women face.

For more information, take a look at Martha Evens’ homepage.

Centre of Life chief executive Linda Conlon

Centre of Life chief executive Linda Conlon

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/life-centre-bosses-pledge-involve-7083462. Posted by Michael Brown for Chronicle Live. May 07, 2014.

The Life Science Centre in the UK has pledged to involve 100,000 women and girls in science, technology, and math as a part of the government’s Your Life campaign, which aims to boost participation in STEM subjects.

For more information, check out this article on the Life Science Centre.

Woman using cell phone in 1990s Radio Shack ad

Woman using cell phone in 1990s Radio Shack ad

Click to see a GIF of the ad

Here is a GIF of the ad

http://tosh.cc.com/blog/tag/technology. Posted by TK Kelly on April 14, 2014.

This cell phone from the 1990s seems to be targeting both women and men from different areas of life. The ad specifically places women interacting with the phone.

For more information, check out this article on retro cell phones.