Ford Motor Company is taking a stand to help inspire more young women to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in the future. To that end, the company recently announced a partnership with Girls Who Code in Silicon Valley.
The joint venture will provide high school girls interested in tech careers mentorship opportunities and the chance to work at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto.
Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in the technology and engineering fields. The organization works to inspire, educate and equip high school girls with the knowledge and know-how required to pursue opportunities in “computing fields,” its website states. The goal is achieved through private and public partnerships, such as the Ford Silicon Valley project.
At present, women make up only an estimated 18% of the computer science graduates in the United States. The number is technically down from 27% in 2001 and 37% in 1984. As the gender gap continues to widen, experts believe that women must be poised to step in and fill positions in this rapidly growing sector.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates jobs in tech fields will grow by an estimated 9 million by the year 2022. This represents an increase of about 1 million since 2012. The number of male graduates in these fields, experts say, will not be enough to meet employer demand.
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Ford’s commitment to STEM education has a longstanding track record. The company has been supporting educational programs in these fields for more than 30 years and sees its dedication to helping close the gender gap as critical to not only its success, but the success of young women who might find opportunities in STEM fields.
“The use of technology is growing exponentially among young people, yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract them to technology-related educational programs,” Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s chief information officer, said in a statement. “This kind of outreach grows more important each year.”
The partnership is just one part of Ford’s growing commitment to the Northern California community. The company has invested more than $1 million in safety, education and disaster relief as part of an initiative launched with its Northern California Ford dealers.
Through the Girls Who Code partnership, Ford intends to support the education and professional growth of Girls Who Code club members in this region. The nonprofit serves an estimated 180 girls in grades six through 12 in the Bay Area.
Nationally, Girls Who Code sponsors summer immersion programs and other initiatives designed to help young women pursue STEM interests. It pairs students with instructors in such fields as web design, robotics, mobile development, engineering and more.
Ford’s drive to help inspire young girls to pursue STEM-related fields is a part of a growing national effort to close the gender gap. The White House has rolled out a number of initiatives in recent years to bolster the effort.
As President Barack Obama explained, “We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to.”
Ford and Girls Who Code are hoping their encouragement will make a difference for some of the Bay Area club’s young members.