As a member of an under-represented group in technology, the concept of the ‘leaky pipeline’ and lack of diversity is not a new concept. I (as well as many others) have first-hand experience of the limited diversity (particularly females) that were in some of my AP-level math and science classes in high school, and that number only continued to dwindle as I pursued a degree in Computer Science. As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve often wondered why do some seem almost drawn to STEM-related careers and interests while so many others seem to move in the opposite direction. Was there something different about me or my path that kept me engaged in Technology?
When I had my daughter, this question became more pressing in my mind. We’ve all heard the facts about learning another language at an early age – does the same apply to STEM skills? Is this perhaps the ‘X factor’? Did my parents do something (knowingly or unknowingly) that helped me to establish a solid foundation for later success?
In this presentation, I will share findings from digging into research and conducting interviews with several early educators. I will present evidence that illustrates a clear connection between early STEM introduction and later interest and success in those fields. For example, numerous studies indicate that early math skills are strong predictors of later academic success. However, similar studies also show that by the time they reach the fourth grade, nearly a third of children (girls and boys) have lost an interest in STEM-related disciplines. By the eighth grade, that number increases to 50%.
As parents, uncles, aunts, siblings, or perhaps even just Allies, are there things that we can do today to focus more on the “walls” or the foundation of building a diverse and inclusive technology (and DevOps!) community? How can we support the next generation of learners and encourage them to explore a career in Technology to build a more representative workforce that more accurately reflects the society in which we live? In this talk we will address all of these questions and give participants the tools and concrete actions they can take to make a difference!