Committing to Action: Girls and STEM at CGI

2014_CGI_blogLate last month, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton hosted the fourth meeting of CGI Americas, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. This working meeting brought together leaders from corporations, foundations, NGOs, and government sectors to develop solutions for economic growth, long-term competitiveness, and social mobility. Since the first meeting in 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 300 “Commitments to Action” valued at nearly $16 billion, which are already affecting nearly 1.4 million lives.

On the second day of the event, 100 new “Commitments to Action” were featured onstage with Hillary Clinton. Intel’s commitment to increasing the number of girls starting and staying with STEM careers was chosen as one of the key commitments.

Intel Foundation is a founding supporter of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and successfully piloted the NCWIT AspireIT initiative last summer. This event provided an opportunity to announce the scaling of the program based on positive pilot results. The Commitment to Action is:

NCWIT 2014 CGI CommitmentBy 2018, NCWIT will engage 10,000 middle school girls in learning computing concepts. It will scale the successfully piloted NCWIT’s AspireIT (URL) initiative, which enlists technical high school or college women in designing and leading computing programs for younger girls. This innovative “near-peer” approach allows young women to become role models and build leadership skills while encouraging younger girls to pursue computing.

The announcement was made in conjunction with the other two National Sponsors of the AspireIT Program, Northrop Grumman and Google. Hillary Clinton commented: “It won’t surprise anyone that I absolutely love this idea.” I love it too Hillary.

Why is this commitment from Intel and NCWIT important to me?

During the event, it was shared during a panel that a child born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution has a 7.5% chance of reaching the top fifth of the income distribution in the United States. It was also shared that women currently represent less than one quarter of individuals earning STEM degrees. Panelists one by one discussed the importance of the role of parents, communities and society and ways to proactively tackle these challenges.

It struck me while sitting there that I found a way to overcome the stats. It left me solidly concluding what my parents often shared with us; you can’t let poverty, zip codes or stats control your destiny. Education is still the #1 accelerator out of poverty. What has slightly changed is that STEM education trumps all other education more now than ever in terms of return on investment. Women, as an example, earn 92 cents on the dollar in STEM careers versus 77 cents today in non-STEM jobs. And STEM jobs are growing 2X as compared to non-STEM jobs.

While sitting in the large hotel ballroom gazing at this crowd of thought leaders, a poem often recited by my father, came to me. “I can’t is a pale, puny pimp,” echoed in my head. It reminded me of just how fortunate I am to have chosen a STEM career. I am one of the 7.5% who took a chance; I also represent that small fraction of less than 25% earning a STEM degree as a female. It can be done and is a reminder that anything is possible if you set a goal, persist and maintain a healthy network of supporting mentors.

2014_CGI_blog_2My personal Call to Action

I am committed to ensuring that girls and underserved students see STEM careers as a viable part of their futures. We know from research that if we can nurture student interest through hands on experiences, connect students with how these careers make a difference in the world and ensure mentors are there each step of the way, the possibilities are limitless. Education is an identity choice and showing more young people what engineers look like can aid with the STEM identity crisis. I’m a STEMinist with the goal of helping one student at a time connect personally with the belief and grit of knowing they have the power to be and excel beyond their wildest dreams.

I urge you to take similar actions: this quarter, introduce one student to a hands-on STEM activity. Your action will help them see the power of STEM careers, and it will inspire them to build innovative solutions which can deliver true social value.

I am looking forward to reading your reactions to this post. And if you are inspired to take action, please let me know that as well!


Published on Categories EducationTags , , , , ,
Barbara Whye

About Barbara Whye

As the Deputy Director of Intel's Diversity in Technology Initiative, Barbara leads the strategy and execution of Intel's recently announced commitment of a $300M Diversity in Technology (DiT) Fund. Barbara works in collaboration with key stakeholders and respective fund decision makers on an integrated strategy that drives Intel's funding selections and public announcements. She is responsible for developing the infrastructure, operational and implementation design of the Fund that positions Intel to successfully achieve its 2020 full representation of women and underrepresented minority goal. As part of her oversight, Barbara also directly leads the team focused on DiT Fund investments in the education pipeline focused on Intel's immediate workforce development needs. Barbara has a BS degree in Electrical Engineering, an MBA and is currently pursuing a PhD in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology at Arizona State University. Prior to transitioning to the philanthropic side of Intel, she spent 15 years in key leadership and project engineering roles responsible for acquiring and starting up new facilities for Intel Corporation worldwide. Barbara led operations for multiple international startups with fast paced ramps resulting in rich and rewarding cultural experiences. She and her family lived in Costa Rica for two years as Intel established a critical manufacturing presence there. She is a Certified Executive Leadership Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a Professional Facilitator with experience in the fields of program management, strategy development, and mergers/acquisitions. She is a graduate of the Business for Diplomatic Action Fellows Program that resulted in a three-week global leadership exchange in the Middle East and is a recipient of Intel's Lifetime Diversity Achievement Award.

1 thought on “Committing to Action: Girls and STEM at CGI

  1. I cannot thank you enough for sharing not only your feelings and inspiration but also calling others to take action and become involved. I have spent over 25 years of my life dedicated to early childhood and work with an organization that educates children starting as early as 6 weeks old and continuing through to Elementary and Junior High. It is very exciting to see a shift in the interest in STEM degree’s and careers for all children but to see how young girls are not just allowed to explore STEM as a possibility but encouraged is truly amazing. They have such creative ad strong minds, so in giving them the opportunity and direction with encouragement just creates the perfect environment for them to thrive. And when they thrive we all will benefit. Thanks for your willingness to invest in our children and in our future. I am always impressed with what Intel is doing for education and for young students. Sincerely, Shelly King

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