The Source, January 7, 2016 — When Nas announced the “Opportunity Fund” in 2014, in conjunction with Google and New York City-based tech educator General Assembly, the message was clear: the future is technology, and more women, African-Americans, Latinos and other underrepresented groups need to be involved.
While women are earning more college and advanced degrees than ever (recent Department of Education statistics show approximately 140 women will graduate with a college degree for every 100 men), there’s still a wage gap between men and women.
“Historically, female students and students of color have experienced discrimination particularly in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math based professions). These careers are often higher paying and more stable, and also carry significant opportunities for career advancement and entrepreneurship,” says Ginelle John, PhD, a university administrator, researcher and lecturer whose research focus includes educational attainment and persistence in STEM fields for female, minority and immigrant students.
Ginelle, a graduate of Cornell, Columbia and New York Universities continues: “Disparities in educational funding, a lack of encouragement, discrimination in graduate school study awards and hiring have all been some of the culprits identified. We all have to be partners and advocates in identifying practices, approaches as well as program designs and institutions that produce success for female and minority students. At every stage we have to identify barriers and help students overcome or work around them with the necessary support.”
Groups like Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code know this and seek to engage young women early, noting that, even though young girls show the same interest in science and technology as boys, that interest reportedly disappears by junior high. The goal of these organizations is to keep women engaged so these interests turn into careers.
In addition to Nas and Google, many organizations offer scholarships for women interested in the STEM fields on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Sony Online Entertainment even offers a scholarship for women interested in becoming video game designers.
No longer are individuals tied to one career for their entire lives, so if you’re feeling uninspired in your current field, technology might be the way to go.