PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 15, 2015 – Ford Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto is joining with Girls Who Code to help close the gender gap in technology and engineering fields.
As part of the collaboration, Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, will support the education and professional growth of Girls Who Code club members in Northern California, serving more than 180 young women in grades six to 12 in the Bay Area.
The Ford Palo Alto team will provide mentorship and instruction to club members, and help them engage in hands-on experience at the company’s Silicon Valley research lab.
“The use of technology is growing exponentially among young people, yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract them to technology-related educational programs,” said Marcy Klevorn, Ford chief information officer. “Ford is working with Girls Who Code to educate them on the many exciting career opportunities available in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. This kind of outreach grows more important each year.”
Women are especially underrepresented in the tech industry, making up just 18 percent of computer science graduates in the United States. That is down from 27 percent in 2001 and from 37 percent in 1984.
Ford’s work with Girls Who Code is part of its expanding community commitment in Northern California. Earlier this year, Ford and Ford Fund announced an investment of more than $1 million in education, safety and disaster relief in a new initiative with Northern California Ford dealers.
Ford’s STEM commitment
Ford’s national commitment to science, engineering, technology and math education began more than 30 years ago. Its ultimate goal is to inspire interest in technology and innovation, which is not only critical to Ford, but to the world’s future development. By supporting education in these areas, Ford can create opportunities connecting the company and its employees directly with youth and the community.
Ford’s national STEM efforts include working with colleges, high schools, founding academies for high school-age students, a high school science and technology program, sponsorship of FIRST® Robotics teams and scholarship funding.
The number of technology-related degrees awarded in the United States is rising, but men alone cannot meet the demand. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs in tech fields will grow to more than 9 million by 2022 – an increase of about 1 million jobs since 2012. Women must close the gap.
Yet with only 0.4 percent of high school girls selecting computer science as a college major, it is essential to inspire young women to pursue higher education and careers in technology.
“We are especially excited at this expanded collaboration because Ford is an institution with longevity in STEM careers for women,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO, Girls Who Code. “The support will enable us to further our mission of providing young women with the resources necessary to one day work for Ford or any number of other technology companies.”
Through its summer immersion program and club programs throughout the country, Girls Who Code is leading the movement to inspire, educate and equip young women with the skills and resources to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing. By pairing instruction in robotics, Web design and mobile development with mentorship and access to top engineers, Girls Who Code aims to close the gender gap in technology and expose students to real-life role models.
“We are pleased to support an organization that mirrors our commitment to developing young minds and inspiring them to work in STEM-related careers,” said Dragos Maciuca, Ford technical director, Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto.