Twitter, the popular social media service, is launching a new effort to even out what it sees as in imbalance in the percentage of females represented in the fields of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM.) Although women are now outnumbering men when it comes to college diplomas, they continue to avoid tech fields despite efforts by education institutions to lure them to the programs via graduate scholarships and fellowships. Educators are also working to encourage girls in elementary, middle and high school to get interested in science and related fields.
In a post on Twitter’s blog today the social media company announced that they were partnering with one such organization, Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code is an organization focused on introducing high school-age girls to technological and engineering fields – computer science, specifically. On the organization’s website they note that women account for a mere 14% of the computer science degrees received each year, despite receiving 57% of all bachelor degrees overall.
During an 8-week program held over the summer break in New York, high school-aged girls will get introductory lessons on basics on coding and computer science in an attempt to get them excited to major in the discipline during college. In addition, participants will get paired with a female mentor who is already a tech professional in a company operating in the sector, including the primary sponsor, Twitter.
The Girl Who Code is the idea of Reshma Saujani, a former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City and the program’s founder. Her main goal is to allow private and public entities to work together in order to close the gender gap in the STEM fields.
In 2010, Reshma became the first South Asian woman to run for Congress, promoting smarter policies to spur innovation and job creation. Advocating for a new model of female leadership focused on risk-taking, competition and mentorship, Reshma is the author of a new book entitled, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, to be released by Amazon Publishing in 2013.
Kristen Titus, who is the program’s executive director, in using her many years of expertise in channeling the philanthropic efforts of private companies and other corporate entities. She was also a managing director of Jumo.com, social network she co-founded with Facebook’s Chris Hughes. She left the company after running its programming and product development division in 2010.