Girls and Gigabytes: Expanding Opportunity for African American Women in STEM

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Today, the White House hosted “Girls and Gigabytes,” an event bringing together 150 middle and high school-aged girls from across 15 states for a day of mentoring, panels, and workshops on STEM topics. As part of initiatives surrounding Black History Month, the event aimed to inspire African American girls, and make clear that they have access to educational opportunities and careers in STEM.

After hearing from a panel of African American women in STEM, moderated by comedian and talk show host from The Real, Loni Love, the girls had the chance to experience different aspects of technology. This included workshops on coding, virtual reality, gaming, building and operating robots, and more. Take a look:

In a session on virtual reality technology, girls learn about 360 degree videos and try on Oculus Gear VR headsets. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)
In a session on virtual reality technology, girls learn about 360 degree videos and try on Oculus Gear VR headsets. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)

 

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In a session on coding and creating applications, girls work together to design their own app. After drawing it out, they presented their ideas to the group. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)

 

A "Girls and Gadgets" participant learns how to operate a robot in a workshop on the wonders of engineering. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)
A “Girls and Gadgets” participant learns how to operate a robot in a workshop on the wonders of engineering. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)

The day concluded with an interactive conversation with Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Lisa Gelobter, The White House/Chief Digital Service Officer at the U.S. Department of Education. Both women shared stories about their journeys into STEM, and encouraged girls to try and make an impact on the world through science and technology. They also explained to attendees that having skills in computer science and other STEM fields can be brought to any field girls are passionate about from music to sports to education.

The “Girls and Gigabytes” event is just one of the many ways the Obama Administration has been working to expand STEM education and employment opportunities to all students. From early in his Administration, President Obama has made improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a priority—he believes that every American student deserves access to a high-quality education in STEM for both their future and for the Nation’s future.