FACT: The United States must increase its production of highly educated workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in order to be competitive in the global marketplace according to numerous studies and reports.
FACT: Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Although women have made some gains, the numbers are still low.
One of the keys to addressing this challenge is to improve access to STEM programs at an early age and encourage women of color to seek careers in STEM. Because of these facts, eBay and Uber executives visited the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (YWCPA) to plant the seeds of pursuing careers in science and engineering. YWCPA, located in Third Ward, has a student body of primarily low-income students of color.
YWCPA principal Dr. April Williams stressed the significance of these companies visiting the school.
“It is important when we are pushing STEM curriculum and that our students understand that Corporate America does want them to be a part of their companies. When Uber and eBay said they would speak to our girls, we thought this would be a dynamic opportunity for our girls,” she said.
Damien Hooper- Campbell, eBay Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, stated that eBay’s presence at YWCPA is “not only important, it is necessary” pointing out the importance of their workforce reflecting the customers they serve and recognizing over 175 million people use the eBay platform across the globe and many of them are women of color.
“Another reason is simply because– let’s keep it real, we know there are some institutionalized inequities that have really created a gap between some of our young women and men of color and other majority groups when it comes to access to education, access to role models, access to mentors,” added Hooper-Campbell. “And as we think about the present and the future, technology is driving all of that. The reason I’m excited about it and the reason eBay is excited is obviously it helps our workforce and our customer. It is also the right thing to do from a leveling of the playing field. As I think of about technology and the opportunities that exist for all of these brilliant young women, who we are talking to today, there are opportunities around learning; there are opportunities around creating the products that are going to drive this nation and this world.”
In the tech world, the statistics tell it all with African-Americans making up less than 5 percent of the workforce among the top 8 largest U.S. tech companies. For women, only one in four or 25 percent of the technology workforce is female.
Uber Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Bo Young Lee believes there are social norms also that must be addressed that ‘tell girls they are not good at math or science.’
“Girls are just as good at science and math but usually in high school and middle school they lose their confidence and they think they are not good at it,” stated Lee. “One of the reasons why I’m here to talk to these girls is to remind them that all the messages that they hear outside telling them that “girls are not good at math; girls are not good at science; girls are not good at becoming engineers or computer scientists” that that is just noise. I want them to push through that noise and I want them to remain confident, amazing and strong.”
Another attractive aspect of why pursuing a STEM career is invaluable is the income generated, according to Hooper-Campbell.
“There are also enormous wealth creation opportunities that are happening. So as we think about education, access, learning, and leveling the playing field, that’s why it is important for eBay to be here along side companies like Uber and other tech companies because we care about these women.”
YWCPA Grand Opening, 1906 Cleburne, Thursday, Oct 4 @ 9:30 am)