This post was written by Gabriela A. Gonzalez, Deputy Director of the Intel Foundation.
What good is a job opening if there is no one to apply? By next year, it is expected that the U.S. will have 1.4 million open computing-related jobs, but only one third of those can be filled by U.S. graduates. In addition, STEM jobs, particularly in technology and engineering fields are growing twice as fast as non-tech jobs.
The problem is even deeper when you look at gender. Only 26% of computing jobs are held by women, with an even lower percentage for women of color. At the current rate, women will be increasingly less represented in these important fields, and less able to contribute their talent and ideas in the rapidly changing world of technology.
There is a huge opportunity to increase the talent pool of girls and young women preparing for careers in STEM fields, and the Intel Foundation is working to address this through our Intel® She Will Connect U.S. initiative. This week we are proud to announce $1.25 million in grants to 27 organizations collaborating on 11 projects in California, Texas, Oregon and Washington. The grants will help these organizations provide innovative, hands-on experiences that expose middle school girls and their families to STEM fields in fun and exciting ways, including:
- Interactive after-school STEM programs that incorporate hands-on computer science activities
- Exposure to creative technology careers, access to musical instruments and creative technology tools
- Making Virtual Reality (VR) coding and production more accessible to Latina middle school youth
- Engaging youth through dance and exposing them to coding and computer science
The collaborations were selected based on their combined track record of achieving results, their credibility in the communities they serve, and their ability to sustain the programs and make a lasting positive impression in the lives of the participating girls, their families, and their communities.
The new grants follow a $1 million investment in 2017 and 2018 for the pilot program of She Will Connect U.S. implemented in Arizona. The collective impact achieved was transformational and inspired us to scale up. For instance, the Phoenix College TEC is for Girls! program found, through pre- and post-program surveys, that the share of participating girls who envisioned themselves going to college rose from 24% to 78%, with a similarly impressive increase in their confidence in science and technology subjects.
Similarly, the families that participated in the Science Family Challenge led by Iridescent and the Aguila Youth Leadership Institute in Phoenix showed improved understanding of the importance of their girls pursuing Computer Science and Engineering. And the TECHNOLOchicas Lift program run by Televisa Foundation and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) found that 93% of the participating girls felt comfortable with computer science, in some cases more than they expected to.
We want to help inspire young people and expand access to opportunities that will help them succeed using the power of technology. Initiatives such as She Will Connect U.S. open doors for young women to explore educational and career paths that may have been unknown or felt out of reach. After all, diverse viewpoints make innovative technologies more accessible and relevant for everyone, everywhere.