TICKET TO TECH

Meet the young women who are breaking down barriers in a male dominated industry, and writing their own tickets into tech.

Aired on August 23, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> COMPUTER SCIENCE TECH IS AN EVER GROWING PART OF OUR DAILY LIVES, IT PLAYS A ROLE IN OUR PHONES, OUR HOMES AND APARTMENTS, OUR CARS AND SO MUCH MORE.

IT'S A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY.

BUT IT'S DOMINATED BY MEN.

SO THIS, A ROOM FULL OF YOUNG WOMEN, LEARN THE ROPES OF COMPUTER SCIENCE IS SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE VERY OFTEN, IF AT ALL.

IT'S A PART OF A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN CUNY AND WOMEN IN TECH.

IT'S CALLED WHITNEY FOR SHORT.

THE MISSION, DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF UNDERGRADUATE WOMEN WHO CHOOSE TO MINOR OR MAJOR IN COMPUTER SCIENCE OR RERELATED FIELDS.

AS THOSE OF US IN THE FIELD KNOW, BUT NOT EVERYBODY IS EQUALLY AS AWARE, WE HAVE A HUGE GENDER EQUITY ISSUE IN TECH.

NOT ONLY DO WE HAVE THAT ISSUE, BUT THAT ISSUE HAS ACTUALLY BEEN GETTING WORSE THE LAST 30 YEARS.

WAY BACK IN 1985, ABOUT 37% OF THE GRADUATING CLASSES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE WERE WOMEN, AND TODAY THAT NUMBER 17%.

WE STOPPED BY TO SEE WHITNEY'S SUMMER GUILD IN PROGRESS.

ALL OF THE YOUNG WOMEN WHO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROGRAM HAVE RECENTLY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL AND ARE SOON TO START ONE OF THE CUNY COLLEGES.

AND THE GOAL OF THE PROGRAM IS, IN ONE WEEK, TO EXPOSE THEM AND HAVE THEM PARTICIPATE IN ALL OF THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF WHAT COULD BE TECHNOLOGY CAREERS, ALL WITH A SINGLE GOAL, WHICH IS TO INCREASE THE PROBABILITY THAT WHEN THEY START COLLEGE IN THE FALL, THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO SIGN UP FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SCIENCE CLASS.

I LIKE IT BECAUSE THIS IS SOMETHING THAT I'VE NEVER REALLY BEEN INTRODUCED TO.

AND I THINK IT'S A NEW EXPERIENCE, BEING THAT TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING EVERY DAY.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE SHOULD BE INTO.

AND THE EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH FEMALES AROUND MY AGE AND STUFF LIKE THAT IS GOOD BECAUSE THERE'S NOT A LOT OF ACTIVITIES THAT INVOLVE WOMEN INTERACTING WITH EACH OTHER.

SHANIA THOMAS WILL BE HEADING TO COLLEGE IN THE FALL AND HE'S ONE OF HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS WHOSE INTEREST HAS BEEN SPARKED BY THE SUMMER GUILD, IN ITS THIRD YEAR.

IN OUR VISIT, WE SAW THE LADIES IN A PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE, COMING UP WITH PRODUCT IDEAS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM OR FIX A NEED.

THEY LEARN ABOUT CODING AND PUT TOGETHER A WEBSITE.

WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE TEAM AS THEY BRAINSTORMED IDEAS AND PROTOTYPES.

WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THE DESIGN.

I THINK IT'S REALLY EMPOWERING BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD THINK THAT WOMEN DON'T REALLY HAVE A PLACE IN THIS FIELD.

SO IT'S KIND OF LIKE UPLIFTING FOR US TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH EACH OTHER AND DO STUFF LIKE THIS BECAUSE IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE SEE WOMEN DOING EVERY DAY.

SEEING HOW THE GIRLS COME UP WITH THEIR IDEAS AND SOLVING THE PROBLEM IS JUST PHENOMENAL.

IT GIVES ME CHILLS, SOMETIMES, JUST TO LISTEN TO THE YOUNG LADIES AND HEARING WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.

AND HOW THEY SOLVE A PROBLEM, AND THEIR IDEAS IS JUST OUT OF THIS WORLD.

CHARISMA PAGON HAS BEEN TEACHING IN THE PROGRAM SINCE THE BEGINNING, AND HELP IT IS STUDENTS AS THEY WORK EACH DAY ON NEW ACTIVITIES.

THIS FIVE-DAY COURSE CULMINATES IN THE FOOIFT AND FINAL DAY, I'M WHISPERING, THE GIRLS ARE INSIDE MAKING THEIR PRESENTATIONS.

THAT'S WHAT THEY DO.

ON THE LAST DAY THEY MAKE A PRESENTATION TO THEIR FELLOW STUDENTS AS WELL AS TEACHERS.

LET'S GO IN AND SEE WHAT THEIR PRESENTATIONS HAVE IN STORE.

WE HAVE A FUNCTION IN JAVA SCRIPT TO ALLOW US TO HAVE THE COLOR CHANGE FROM BLUE TO ORANGE DEPENDING WHETHER OR NOT YOU CLICK ON IT OR NOT.

I DIDN'T EXPECT TO BE LIKE GIVING SUCH A BIG PRESENTATION IN FRONT OF SO MANY PEOPLE.

AND THERE ARE LIKE IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE AS WELL.

IT'S JUST EXCITING AS WELL.

EMILY IS HEADING TO HUNTER COLLEGE IN THE FALL.

THE COMPUTER SCIENCE BUG HIT HER IN HIGH SCHOOL AFTER SHE TOOK AN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN CLASS.

MY PRESENTATION WAS ON A APP.

IT WAS TO USE USER INPUT BASED ON YOUR MOOD, IT WOULD SUGGEST DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES FOR YOU TO DO IN THE MEANTIME.

IT WAS AT THE BEGINNING IT WAS MOSTLY TARGETED TOWARDS PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS, PEOPLE WHO ARE ADDICTED TO SMOKING, THEY WOULD USE THIS APP TO TAKE UP OTHER ACTIVITIES RATHER THAN USING THEIR BREAK TO GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE A SMOKE.

IT'S THAT TYPE OF SPARK THE PROGRAM IS LOOKING FOR.

I ASKED WHITNEY'S FOUNDER THE HEAVY QUESTION, WHY AREN'T THERE MORE WOMEN IN TECH?

THERE'S NO SINGLE ANSWER.

WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE ROLE MODEL ISSUES, YOU KNOW, IF WE THINK ABOUT WHO ARE THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS AND TECHNOLOGISTS THAT COME TO MIND, THEY'RE ALMOST ALL MALES.

SO WE HAVE THAT ISSUE.

WE HAVE THE SORT OF ONGOING ISSUE THAT YOUNG GIRLS TEND TO MOVE AWAY FROM MATH AND SCIENCE TYPE SUBJECTS WHEN THEY'RE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL.

BUT WE ALSO HAVE A CULTURAL ISSUE IN THE TECH FIELD THAT EVEN YOUNG WOMEN WHO EXPRESS AN INTEREST IN IT AND MOVE IN THAT DIRECTION END UP GETTING DISCOURAGED OR DISSUADED BECAUSE OF THE PERVASIVE GENDER, EQUITY CHALLENGES THAT EXIST IN THE TECH FIELD.

AFTER TALKING WITH THESE YOUNG LADIES, YOU COULD QUICKLY SEE A THEME.

IN THESE GROUPS, PROGRAMMING EQUALS EMPOWERMENT.

AND IN THIS CIRCLE, A WEIGHT HAS BEEN LIFTED AND THESE GIRLS FELT A LITTLE MORE FREE TO LET THEIR IDEAS FLY.

IT'S VERY UPLIFTING TO SEE.

I WENT TO A MICROSOFT CONFERENCE IN PHILADELPHIA FOR AZURE, AND THERE WERE 800 PEOPLE OR MORE, AND I SAW FOUR WOMEN INCLUDING MYSELF.

WHEN I WALKED IN, I WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE SO MANY GIRLS AND WOMEN IN ONE ROOM INTERESTED IN THE SAME TOPIC.

IT'S A SENSE OF RELIEF, ALMOST PUTTING YOUR GUARD DOWN.

YEAH, IT'S LIKE, WOW, IT'S NOT JUST ME.

I'M NOT ALONE IN THIS.

THE SUMMER GUILD PROGRAM HAS SEEN ABOUT 1,500 YOUNG WOMEN COME THROUGH ITS DOORS SINCE THE INCEPTION IN 2016.

THERE ARE A DOZEN IN HERE.

THEY'VE MADE FRIENDS IN THIS WEEK AND WHITNEY WILL STAY IN CONTACT WITH THE GIRLS OFFERING MENTORSHIP AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES AS THE SCHOOL YEAR GETS GOING.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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