As women in tech, we know what we want for ourselves, and we have ideas on how we can achieve our goals. However, we must also realize that we are absolutely capable of influencing the next generation of female coders and engineers.
The obstacles and struggles that females face as they pursue their studies in school, as well as when they continue their life in the industry should be known and acted upon for the sake of improving society for future generations. For example, young girls should be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and find confidence within themselves. According to Catherine Hill, a writer for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), some of the reasons as to why women lack an interest in the STEM field is due to the fact that they may have had a fixed mindset as they were growing up. To have a fixed mindset is to believe that one can only achieve success or solve a problem if they were truly “smart” in the beginning. When girls have a “fixed mindset” as opposed to a “growth mindset”, they lose confidence in themselves and their abilities to take on challenging tasks, which can be presented in subjects such as math and science. Young girls are growing up with a fixed mindset, and that’s a problem. In order for them to be more successful at an early age, we must fix this problem.
- Give back to your community
- Reach out to girls in your home community and get to know them. Make an effort to understand their goals before asking them if they know about the technology and engineering field.
- Encourage girls to take on challenges and not be afraid to do well in STEM subjects in school.
- Become a mentor and inspire them with projects that you have created, and show them that they are capable of creating such projects as well.
- Stimulate engaging learning environments. Talk to your local elementary school and see if you can get involved in their science fairs. Propose new ways to foster a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. Show them how STEM subjects CAN be fun to learn!
- Become proactive outside of school
- Hackathons are the perfect place to learn new skills. By being able to try new things and practice your skills in a safe and fun environment, you are able to narrow down your focus for your career path as well. Not only that, but Hackathons are a perfect opportunity to practice working in teams and networking with other students and mentors. Talking to others and sharing ideas is a great way to get people excited about computer science. Also, who can forget the free food and free goodies given by the sponsored companies!?
- Don’t know how to start and where to look for Hackathons? Well, let me Google that for you!
- What’s better than an all female Hackathon? A conference to celebrate the wonderful women in the world of computing! The Grace Hopper Conference is a yearly conference that allows girls in the computer science field to meet other amazing females around the world, listen to inspiring keynote speakers, and discover new opportunities with incredible companies. Learn more about it here.
- Get involved on campus
- The Technology Management Certificate is a UCSB extension that allows undergraduate students of any majors to gain a better understanding of conducting business in the technology field. For more information, visit the website here.
- Volunteer with SBHacks, an annual hackathon that lasts 3 days in Corwin Pavilion. Hundreds of motivated participants from all over California (with some out of state visitors!) visit to work on exciting and incredible projects to compete in fun challenges. It is a great opportunity for those who have no experience in coding to try for the first time as well! Give your support at our website here!
- Clubs such as “Women in Software and Hardware” serves as a great support system for women in engineering. Although the club aims to provide support for women, they are male supporters as well. Members are able to build connections and speak about their problems in a safe space while learning about more opportunities of how to succeed as a female in the technology and engineering field.
- The “Data Science Club at UCSB” also offers a supportive community where members from any major are able to explore the hot and growing field of Data Science. Members are given the opportunity and resources necessary to get started on their own project. Get to know more about the club here.
- Last but not least, encourage your female peers to not be afraid to realize their potential and speak up! Participate in events, challenges, sit in the front of the classroom or meeting in order to be noticed. Little gestures and supportive comments can go a long way in promoting healthy and encouraging mindsets.