"We aim to provide young women and girls with a foundation of frameworks, knowledge, and skills so they will be prepared when they encounter gender dynamics. We want them to have the tools to recognize and handle those situations, and peer networks to draw on for support." -Sara Jordan-Bloch, program founder and the Lab's Director of Leadership Research and Programs
The Seeds of Change initiative provides innovative training and support to young women in STEM as they transition through high school and college to successful technology careers. Made possible by a three-year $1.5M gift from information technology leader VMware, the program addresses the glaring underrepresentatiion of women in computer science and engineering.
While women earn more than 50% of undergraduate degrees, they represent only 18% of computer science graduates. Moreover, among those women who earn degrees in technology-related fields, as many as 40% eventually leave these areas for other occupations. As a result, only 26% of computing jobs are held by women. In engineering jobs, women account for only 12%.
Women’s underrepresentation in these and other STEM fields is rooted, researchers say, in persistent stereotypes and unconscious gender bias. These forces influence women at multiple junctures in their academic and career journeys. Early on, girls receive less early encouragement than boys to pursue STEM studies. Later, those women who persevere in technology fields report feeling a lack of support and encouragement, particularly in terms of leadership opportunities.
To address the problem, Seeds of Change partners Stanford undergraduates in technology disciplines with high school students interested in advancing the participation of women and girls in STEM, and provides an integrated curriculum of mentoring, training and skills development. The program’s goal to is to establish and retain young women in technology fields, and create future women STEM leaders.
Seeds of Change launched in September 2017 with 20 Stanford undergraduates and 80-100 students in grades 9 through 12. After a pilot phase, the Lab plans to expand the program nationally.
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