Students Recommend Ways to Add Women to Computer Science Careers

Only 1 in 4 Women Choose to Enter the Field of Computer Science
Audio: 
DaJane Fonville and Alexis Bridgett, Washington, D.C. High School Students from KIPP D.C., and Lisa Mitnick, Managing Director, Accenture Digital

(Washington, DC, Thursday, October 12, 2017) – As women continue to gain ground in science and engineering fields, there is glaring underrepresentation in computer science. This summer, two high school juniors committed to finding out why. No strangers to STEM curriculum, DaJane Fonville and Alexis Bridgett spent their summer internship at Accenture leading focus groups of their peers and analyzing research try identify factors that might contribute to only 1 in 4 women choosing to enter the field of computer science. Their research provides an inside look at how high school students – both women and men – approach decisions about their futures and what if anything, can draw them into these courses of study. 

DaJane Fonville and Alexis Bridgett, Washington, D.C. high school students from KIPP D.C., describe what they learned.

FONVILLE SOUNDBITE:

IN THIS INTERNSHIP, WE REALLY HAD THE CHANCE TO BE TREATED LIKE PROFESSIONALS AND CONDUCT RESEARCH. WE ALSO LEARNED THAT THERE IS A LACK OF ROLE MODELS IN THE STEM FIELD WHO HELP AND ENCOURAGE YOUNG WOMEN THROUGH THE OBSTACLES. I HAVE MANY FRIENDS WHO DECIDED THAT THE STEM CAREERS WEREN’T REALLY FOR THEM. I FEEL LIKE: MATH IS MONEY, SO MATH IS ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO BUY. IF YOU WANT TO BUY A CAR OR A HOUSE YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE MATH. I THINK BOYS SHOULD EMBRACE HAVING MORE GIRLS INTERESTED IN STEM, BUT IF THEY DOUBT US, THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE CAN’T DO IT.

BRIDGETT SOUNDBITE:

WOMEN TYPICALLY SHY AWAY FROM STEM JOBS AND STEM OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE THEY DON’T REALLY KNOW MUCH ABOUT STEM. AND THE NAME STEM DOESN’T SEEM INTERESTING.  BOYS AND GIRLS BOTH SAID THAT GIRLS THINK MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE THAN THE PRESENT. THAT’S PROBABLY WHY THEY TAKE A SAFE ROUTE AND GO AFTER MORE TRADITIONAL JOBS. FOR BOYS, GAMING IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST REASONS THEY GET INTO COMPUTER SCIENCE. WE RECOMMENDED FORMING A GROUP OF STEM CHAMPIONS WHO HELP GET MORE YOUNG WOMEN INVOLVED AND TALKING TO TEACHERS ABOUT INCORPORATING STEM RELATED EXAMPLES IN CLASS.

Lisa Mitnick, managing director of Accenture digital, and the students’ sponsor, discusses the importance of encouraging STEM studies.

MITNICK SOUNDBITE:

WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT THE MARKETING AND REBRANDING OF COMPUTER SCIENCE INTO SOMETHING THAT WILL APPEAL TO YOUNG PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY GIRLS AND WOMEN. THE WORDS “COMPUTER SCIENCE,” THEY JUST DON’T RESONATE. APPS RESONATE. A-I RESONATES. GAMING RESONATES. WE NEED TO USE THEIR LANGUAGE TO SPARK THEIR ENTHUSIASM THAT CAN LEAD TO STEM CAREERS. YOU KNOW, THIS IS THE FIRST GENERATION OF TRUE TECHNOCRATS – THEY’VE NEVER KNOWN LIFE WITHOUT A SMART PHONE. AND IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIND THE RIGHT WAY TO SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE THEM.

For more information, visit https://www.accenture.com/us-en/company-girls-who-code

 

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