Kansas City Girls in Tech initiative launch

Kansas City Girls in Tech initiative launch

New movement encourages area girls to explore opportunities in computer science through outreach, mentoring and hands-on learning

GIT_10.28.15Kansas City, Mo. (December 7, 2015)—In an era where new technologies are responsible for life-altering advancements in every field from medicine to entertainment, women are not well represented in computing professions. A new movement led by KC STEM Alliance hopes to change that trend by introducing elementary through high school-age girls to opportunities in the field.

The initiative, sponsored by the Skillbuilders Fund, Women’s Foundation and Cerner with support from a host of in-kind partners, kicks off at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, with an event at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Attendees will preview new tools to encourage girls to explore tech and computer science and will see firsthand what happens when girls delve into coding.

Fifty young women from local public schools will showcase the Hour of Code—an outreach program to demystify code by using fun themes that show anyone can learn the basics—during the kickoff event. The Girls in Tech KC launch week will include six Hour of Code events in all, reaching more than 400 girls at partner sites throughout the metro. (See more details on Hour of Code, Powered by Girls media alert.)

The Girls in Tech KC movement addresses an increasing demand for a qualified and diverse workforce to fill tech jobs in the Kansas City region. Although women hold 57 percent of all professional occupations nationally, they represent only 26 percent of professional computing occupations and only 6 percent of Chief Information Officer positions, according to 2014 data analyzed by the National Center for Women in Technology.

“The good news is that research also reveals effective ways to address the challenge,” said KC STEM Alliance’s Martha McCabe. “Doing so will help both employers who need a talented and diverse workforce and students who are looking for a solid and financially rewarding career path in our region.”

The Kansas City Girls in Tech initiative follows a research-based approach that includes:

  • early hands-on exposure to computer science through the Hour of Code events and four girls-only app camps
  • connecting female students with female mentors; and
  • a #GirlsinTechKC social media campaign to raise awareness, help girls interested in tech connect with each other and learn more about the types of work available by connecting with women already in the field.

MORE OF THE STORY: At a time when computer science is driving job growth and innovation, we’re turning out fewer computer scientists overall and especially low numbers of women. Here’s a look at the situation in Missouri and Kansas by the numbers:

Missouri has 9,077 open computing jobs (3.5 times the average demand rate). The average salary for a computing occupation in Missouri is $78,100, significantly higher than the state overall average of $42,790. Yet Missouri had only 823 computer science graduates in 2013; only 15 percent were female. Only 333 high school students in Missouri took the AP Computer Science exam in 2015; only 14 percent were female.

Kansas has 3,595 open computing jobs (3.2 times the average demand rate). The average salary for a computing occupation in Kansas is $72,128, significantly higher than the state overall average of $42,020. Kansas had only 353 computer science graduates in 2013; only 16 percent were female. Only 48 high school students in Kansas took the AP Computer Science exam in 2015; only 19 percent were female. Source: Code.org

Nationally, the trends are similar: By 2022, projections show there will be 1.2 million computing-related job openings. At the current rate, only 39 percent of these could be filled by U.S. computing bachelor’s degree recipients. Source: National Center for Women & Information Technology.

In 2013, 57 percent of all bachelor’s degree recipients were women, yet women earned only 18 percent of all computing and information science bachelor’s degrees. Source: GirlsWhoCode.org.

By bringing together corporations, not-for-profits and schools, the Girls in Tech initiative will reach thousands of young women across the metro to build awareness of the opportunities and dispel myths that may be keeping girls from exploring this career path.

About KC STEM Alliance: KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business partners and affiliates that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust force of related professionals for the Kansas City region. The alliance’s work is made possible thanks to sustaining partners including Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Cerner, DST Systems, Garmin, Google Fiber, KCP&L and Honeywell.

About SkillBuilders Fund: The SkillBuilders Fund is a private foundation founded by Marjorie Powell Allen in 1983. The Fund invests in programs that create opportunity for women and girls in the Kansas City region to realize their full potential, with primary areas of interest in employment, education and life skills.

About Women’s Foundation: The Women’s Foundation promotes equity and opportunity for women and girls, using philanthropy, research and policy solutions to make meaningful change.

About Cerner

Cerner’s health information technologies connect people, information and systems at more than 18,000 facilities worldwide. Recognized for innovation, Cerner solutions assist clinicians in making care decisions and enable organizations to manage the health of populations. The company also offers an integrated clinical and financial system to help health care organizations manage revenue, as well as a wide range of services to support clients’ clinical, financial and operational needs. Cerner’s mission is to contribute to the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities. On February 2, 2015, Cerner Corporation acquired substantially all of the assets, and assumed certain liabilities, of the Siemens Health Services business from Siemens AG. Nasdaq: CERN. For more information about Cerner, visit cerner.com, read cerner.com/blog, connect on Twitter at twitter.com/cerner and on Facebook at facebook.com/cerner.

In-kind support for Girls in Tech includes Hour of Code host sites—Commerce Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Johnson County Community College with support from Balance Innovations, Cerner and Google Fiber—and promotional support from Northpass Media and KCUR.