'Black girls code' hopes for more minorities in STEM careers - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

'Black girls code' hopes for more minorities in STEM careers

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics — they are known as the stem fields, and they are looking for women, especially minority women, to fill positions.(Source: Ivanhoe Newswire) Science, technology, engineering and mathematics — they are known as the stem fields, and they are looking for women, especially minority women, to fill positions.(Source: Ivanhoe Newswire)

SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are known as the stem fields, and they are looking for women, especially minority women, to fill positions. The problem is there are not enough qualified females to fill the jobs.

That is where Kimberly Bryant steps in. Her mission is to change the way black girls think about science, and open up their minds to a whole new way of life. Kimberly Bryant, Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls Code in San Francisco found herself smack dab in the middle of a white, male dominated field while getting her electrical engineering degree at Vanderbilt.

Bryant says, “Many times I felt like giving up or quitting, because it was a very difficult road. It took a lot for me to even navigate how to be successful in that environment.”

After college, her work environment was more of the same.

Bryant says, “People would not talk to me. They would talk to the junior engineer, or my assistant, as opposed to directing their conversation to me as the project manager,” she went on, “I find myself often, really having to fight to be 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 times better than the average peer just to reach the same level of success.”

Fast forward 15 years and she was witnessing her teenage daughter facing the same fate at a game development summer camp.

“A room full of little boys that were all over the place, very vocal. There was only one student of color, and that was my daughter. And that was very shocking to me,” Bryant recalls.

Just 25 percent of science and technology jobs are filled by women. Only three percent of those are black, and just one percent Hispanic.

Bryant says, “We have more stem jobs available then we have graduates to fill them.”

She left the corporate world to develop Black Girls Code or, BGC. She says, “The mission of Black Girls code is to change this ratio for women of color in technology by increasing the pipeline of women that are majoring in computer science. And eventually, we hope, becoming the future leaders of the companies, like the Facebooks and the Googles of tomorrow.”

In just four years Black Girls Code has developed after-school programs, weekend workshops and summer camps that reach 5,000 girls in 10 states.

“They’re doing it, not necessarily alone, but within a group of girls that look like them, come from similar backgrounds as them, but have some of the same interests,” Bryant says.

You can find out if there is a Black Girls Code chapter in your area by going to its website. Even if there is not, Bryant says there are many ways to get your daughter involved and interested in science like Maker Faires, a national, hands-on science fair. Another option is the First Robotics Movement.  Even some video games, like Mind Craft, teach early elements of coding.

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