THE RIGHT COURSE
Ford collaborates with Girls Who Code to help improve gender diversity in STEM fields
While technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the industries that develop it are regressing in terms of gender diversity.
Women made up only 18% of computer science graduates in 2012, according to the National Center for Women in Information Technology. This is down from 37% in 1985, signifying that the gender gap in the workplace is only getting worse. To Ford Chief Information Officer Marcy Klevorn, this makes little sense in a time when young people are more tech oriented than ever.
“That’s counterintuitive when kids have access to cell phones and mobile devices and technology seems to be everywhere,” she says.
Palo Alto’s Ford Research and Innovation Center (RIC), which works to develop innovative mobility technology, is helping to buck the trend by teaming with Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit that provides opportunities to young women who are interested in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The collaboration will take the form of a summer internship program involving Girls Who Code alumni in the Northern California area. Interns will gain experience through working hands-on with RIC employees on projects. What’s more, the RIC is inviting 40 alumni to its office for an interactive presentation by its staff, as well as a tour of its state-of-the-art labs.
The program was born out of the Ford Motor Company Fund, a philanthropic arm of the company that’s involved in a variety of STEM activities. When representatives of the fund discovered a group that focused on helping young women in the STEM fields, they jumped at the chance to team up, Klevorn says.
“One issue that faces all of us is the shortage of talent in the marketplace,” says Klevorn. “I think it’s important in general to do what we can on our part to encourage more people to get into those fields.”
Internships begin this summer. Ford’s work with Girls Who Code is part of its expanding community commitment to Northern California, where it recently invested $1 million in education, safety and disaster relief through collaboration with the region’s Ford dealers.