For the past few decades, there has been a misperception that STEM disciplines, such as engineering and computer science, are a more natural fit for men than for women. This perception, along with a lack of exposure to STEM, has resulted in the current deficit of women—and particularly women of color—that exists in STEM fields today. As a result, we face a gross imbalance between the number of technical women and men at tech companies today, despite the fact that women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce overall.
Non-profit Black Girls Code was founded to not only change these perceptions but to provide greater exposure to STEM for young African-American girls. The organization’s aim is to provide girls of color the chance to learn tech skills and get exposure to programming early enough so that they might consider careers in computer science, growing a new generation of coders and innovators.
NetApp’s RTP Women in Technology (WIT) in partnership with NetApp Network of Blacks in Tech (NNBT) recently co-hosted an event with Black Girls Code for approximately 25 girls and their parents on a rainy Friday night in April. Featuring a meet-and-greet, panel discussion and Q&A, NetApp employees and representatives from the RTP chapter of NetApp Network of Blacks in Tech (NNBT) had the chance to discuss the advantages of STEM careers and what girls of color can gain from taking an interest in STEM disciplines.
Lisa Melsted develops culture strategies and content for NetApp’s Employee Engagement team. A tech industry veteran with more than 15 years’ experience in various communications and marketing roles, she holds Master’s degrees in Creative Non-Fiction from Emerson College and English from the University of Iowa. She has also written articles about technology for publications such as Forbes BrandVoice and TechPageOne.