Girls Don’t Just Want to Have Fun, They Want to Change the World

Ford joins with Girls Who Code to champion its mission to provide opportunities for young women who want to pursue the STEM fields.

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The Ford Research & Innovation Center (RIC) in Palo Alto, California, is a hotbed of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit working to inspire, educate and equip young women with the skills and resources necessary to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing. Keeping with our growing commitment to Northern California communities, we’ve teamed up with Girls Who Code to help champion their mission to provide opportunities for young women interested in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

While technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the industries that develop it are regressing in terms of gender diversity. The 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. But, while the number of technology-related degrees awarded in the U.S. is on the rise, women remain significantly underrepresented in the tech industry — making up just 18 percent of all computer science graduates across the country. That is down from 27 percent in 2001 and 37 percent in 1984, signifying that the gender gap in the workplace is only getting worse.

To help buck this trend, Girls Who Code summer immersion and club programs across the country, pair instruction in robotics, web design and mobile development, with mentorship and access to top engineers — giving students exposure to real-life role models. At the Ford RIC, we’re providing mentorship and instruction to club members by pairing them with RIC employees and giving them hands-on experience on projects at our Silicon Valley research lab. Our summer internship program includes Girls Who Code alumnae in the Northern California area who want to continue to hone their skills with more hands-on experience in a real-world environment. Additionally, the center invites 40 alumnae to attend an interactive presentation by the staff, complete with a tour of our state-of-the-art labs.

The Girls Who Code initiative was born out of the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company involved in numerous STEM-centric initiatives. When the fund’s representatives discovered an organization dedicated to helping young women in the STEM fields, we jumped at the chance to get involved.

Our commitment to STEM education began more than 30 years ago with a goal to inspire interest in technology and innovation. We believe STEM education is not only critical for our company, but also for the future of the world in which we all live. Our national STEM efforts include working with colleges and high schools, founding academies for high school-age students, a high school science and technology program, sponsorship of FIRST® Robotics teams and scholarship funding.

“One issue that faces all of us is the shortage of talent in the marketplace. I think it’s important in general to do what we can on our part to encourage more people to get into those fields.”