On Saturday, April 8th, my colleague and I attended a Teq-sponsored event at Google Headquarters hosted by Black Girls Code, an organization built on the mission of increasing the number of women of color in STEM fields. 30 girls ages 7-12 attended this event and learned how to use Google Blocky and SmartGurlz robots.
I was amazed by how fast the girls caught on and I’d like to think that a large part of that was due to the relatability of the SmartGurlz robots, called Siggy. Not only is the Siggy robot appealing to young girls because it is made with a doll, it offers a diverse group of characters that girls can relate to.
Diversity in STEM is an important issue that deserves attention as shown in the image below. According to College Board (2015 AP Computer Science A exams), the National Center for Education Statistics (college graduates by degree in 2015), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey (people employed in computing occupations in 2014) females represent 22% of AP Computer Science A exam-takers, 18% of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees, and 23% of people employed in computing occupations. Underrepresented minorities represent 13% of AP Computer Science A exam-takers (9% Hispanic, 4% Black), 18% of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees (9% Hispanic or Latino, 8% Black, less than 1% American Indian or Alaska Native), and 14% of people employed in computing occupations (8% Black, 6% Hispanic).
Not only is there is a large gap of women in STEM fields, especially women of color, there is a large gap of computer science toys offered for girls. SmartGurlz and Black Girls Code are taking large steps to address that. The Siggy robot is not offered in the US yet, but it is expected to be on the market this coming June! Keep an eye out for information on where you can get your own!
For more great pictures of the event, visit Facebook.com/myteq.