By Sayra Ilyas
The following article appeared in the November 2019 edition of The Campus.
The Grove School of Engineering has partnered with Google to create a pipeline program for New York City female high school students interested in pursuing a career in computer science. Google awarded The City College of New York (CCNY) with an $18,000 grant to help create new opportunities for women in STEM and hopefully incentivize a new generation of female tech professionals.
The partnership between CCNY and Google blossomed during an information session held last summer for CUNY career service professionals. Brendan Collins, Google’s university program specialist, came to visit the campus three times over a five-month period, showing a great deal of interest in the diverse and bright minds over at the Career and Development Institute. Since then, Collins has worked to create resumé and interview workshops, as well as provide insight into the tech recruitment process, which focuses specifically on what Google is searching for in new hires.
Statistics show that only 20% of computer science degrees in the United States are held by women. Incidentally, the percentage of women in the field has decreased over the years from 37.1% back in 1984. The number of women at the frontlines of tech companies provide an even more grim reality. Only 13% of executives of global Fortune 500 companies are women, including roles such as Chief Information Security Office, Chief Information Office, as well as senior executive positions including Vice President.
The student-run club, Women in Computer Science (WiCS), will take initiative in reversing this bothersome truth by crafting the first curriculum to be used by the first cohort of New York City high school students. Together, CCNY’s very own undergraduate students majoring in computer science, as well as teaching assistants, will team up to educate the high schoolers about the tech field in two Saturday workshops spanning out over the course of two years. One workshop will take place this October and the second in October 2020. The aim of these two sessions is to create a tangible experience in a college setting for the high schoolers and help them better understand what a career in STEM entails. Topics will include the major obstacles that might come their way, specifically the severe underrepresentation of women in the field.
The WiCS club is excited about the new opportunities that this grant will provide young, female high school students. The executive board was able to give The Campus a statement about the positive impact that the grant will have on the next generation of tech professionals. The club explained that, “This grant allows us to expose high school students, especially young women, to computer science and coding. It gives students from schools without any programming classes a great opportunity to not only learn, but also, build a network that can help them in the future.” Over half of STEM-related professions deal with computing. Given the popular demand, however, there is a shortage of computer science courses being taught in NYC high schools. Only 44% of all NYC public high schools teach computer science. As a result, the NYC Department of Education is starting to take an initiative to promote computer science education and aims to have the course taught by all NYC public schools by 2025. With great persistence, the next generation of tech professionals will boast greater diversity and innovation than the tech giants of today.