The gender gap in technology and engineering is getting worse, despite the increased demand for STEM-related jobs. GM and the national nonprofit Girls Who Code (GWC) today announced a partnership to inspire and empower thousands of U.S. middle and high school girls to become future leaders in these fields.
Through the GM/GWC partnership, girls from underserved communities will gain increased access to computer science education, sisterhood, mentorship and projects that demonstrate the real-world impact of computing through a model that significantly increases young girls’ interest in pursuing technology and engineering degrees. GM is giving a $250,000 grant to expand GWC’s Clubs programs, which provide free after-school activities in schools, universities and community centers.
To kick off the partnership, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and GWC Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani are hosting 30 GWC students for activities focused on connectivity, electrification, autonomous and future mobility solutions.
“Becoming an engineer paved the way for my career,” said Barra. “It's one of the reasons I am passionate about promoting STEM education to students everywhere. Partnering with Girls Who Code is one more step in GM’s commitment to inspiring and growing diverse future leaders. I’m extremely proud that some of GM’s top female leaders will spend time with the students, teaching them about the possibilities and rewards of a STEM education."
GM and GWC aim to combat the decline of women in technology fields, a trend recently highlighted in research from Accenture* and GWC. The findings reveal that as demand for computing jobs continues to grow, the proportion of women in those jobs will decrease over the next decade. In fact, the share of women in the computing workforce has dropped from 37 percent in 1995 to 24 percent today. This trend presents a huge challenge for the U.S. economy and its long-term global competitiveness. Yet the research also points to a significant opportunity: Programs designed specifically to spark and maintain girls’ interest from middle school into the workforce — such as the GM and GWC partnership — could triple the number of women in the computing workforce in the next 10 years.
“While we’re proud of our progress to date in closing the gender gap in technology, our work is just getting started. It’s never been a more urgent time to help our girls succeed in technology and engineering,” said Saujani. “We need more of our daughters to become engineers like Mary Barra, not just because these are goods jobs, but because having diverse thinkers in these roles makes our companies more innovative and competitive. I’m thrilled that our partnership with GM will help thousands of girls get access to top jobs and they’ll get to shape the products and services we use every day.”
Today’s launch event includes hands-on workshops led by GM leaders including Julia Steyn, director of MAVEN car-sharing program; Victoria McInnis, vice president of Tax & Audit; Christine Sitek, COO, GCCX Operations; Alicia Boler Davis, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing; Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer, Global Electric & Autonomous Vehicles; and Sheri Hickok, executive director, Autonomous Vehicles Business Strategy & Execution Autonomous Partnerships and Fleets. Barra and Saujani will also gather with the girls for a fireside chat, taking questions and sharing their personal journeys of advancement in technology and engineering.
GWC students and GM executives will come together for more activities throughout the year.
*Accenture Research measured the pipeline of the female computing workforce and assessed the relative effectiveness of actions that impact girls’ interest in computing. For the complete report and methodology, see www.girlswhocode.com/crack-the-code/.