DIVERS-TEM - Diversity in the STEM Fields

Increasing the diversity of minority of women in the STEM fields

Photo of Kite Titan
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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Date Started

November 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Our co-founder, Swarathmika, was a camp counselor at a coding camp. She noticed that as time went on, more and more girls started to drop out of the camp. There was then just a small group of girls that all looked like each other. When approaching Swarathmika, they would always ask why she wore make-up and did her hair. She realized, girls don't feel like STEM is for them, or even have a chance to know if it is, because they become discouraged by social standards. We looked more into this problem and look at our engineering 3 classroom. Out of a total of 33 students, only 5 were girls. After more research, we found statistics like, the average amount of women majoring in engineering or science is 20%. That number drops, even more, when we see that less than 1 in 10 minority women are employed, engineers and scientists.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There are not enough women in the STEM fields, this is because girls get discouraged about STEM at an early age. We looked more into this problem and look at our engineering 3 classroom. Out of a total of 33 students, only 5 were girls. After more research we see that less than 1 in 10 minority women are employed, engineers and scientists.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We hold workshops with a different focus each week for middle school girls that has a different STEM topic each week. (For example Week 1 - Engineering Week 2 - Ardunio coding) We work with the educators themselves and show them our lesson plan and all the materials before the day of the workshop so that they are on the same page as well. We send information about what we are working on with the girls through the school newsletters and soon social media pages and our own website to keep the parents in the loop of what's going on. Not only do we keep all parties in the loop, we are student-led and not much older than these girls, allowing us to have a better connection with these girls.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Week 1- Engineering: Each girl is paired up with another girl. At the start of the workshop, we teach them about what engineering is and the different types of engineering. After that, we give the girls their task; Create an object that can move forward on it own. Usually, a race car will pop in their heads, we give them a bag of all the materials they are allowed to use which consists of cut out wheels, paper clips, rubber bands, sharpened pencils, etc. We give them about 20 min to create something while we are walking around and working with them personally. At the end of the 20 min we will go around the room to each pair ask what they created, have them test what they created, what was difficult, and what was easy. If the girls don't have something that works, we enforce that it is okay to fail at a task and to learn from it to build up their confidence to continue.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

We are student-led. It was not that long ago since we were in these girls shoes, because of this, the girls can relate to us a lot better. We work with three groups of people, the middle school girls, the educators, and the parents to keep everyone in the loop of what we are doing and why it is important that we are doing it. We are consistent in the fact that we want to be throughout the school year and eventually, all year round. We don't just focus on one thing like coding, but all aspects of STEM and we don't set up any workshops like a lecture, but making it as fun as possible.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have partnered with two schools: Rose Hill Middle Schoool and Forest Ridge School of Sacred Heart. We have personally worked with the teachers at both schools to continue working there for the 2018-2019 school year. We are expanding to schools in Boston, with one of our co-founders moving there for college. We are in contact with different people that work with the board of educators that want to put more STEM curriculum into school, PTA through schools to set up programs for underrepresented youth, and talking with people that have projects alike with ours, but with their focus on helping just the educators.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Continuing our work with our partnerships this summer and the 2018-2019 school year. We are considering opportunities to work with community centers to hold our workshops to have a specific location that girls can come to for workshops if we do not have a partnership with their school. Expanding our partnerships past the King County Area and into Boston. We want to be able to connect with our target audience easily and by doing this we are starting to create social media platforms and develop a website.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We currently have two school partnerships that will continue into the next school year and mentors that help guide us in every way. We are thinking about having space where these workshops are held to add on to the spaces of the schools. As 4/5 of our current team members are going to college, only 1 of them is going to continue it in college while the other co-founder is going to start their senior year next school year and continue the startup in this area. Because of this, we will need more members to add to our team. We are starting to work on a website and are now looking into funding for our future.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We could partner many ways with other changemakers. By adding them to our team or just by coming in to do a workshop with them or wherever they want us. Even partnering with other changemakers that have the same or alike goal as us would be a way for us to make a bigger difference then we already have and are doing.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Melanie Kong - STEM Startups


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

Photo of Kite Titan

Thank you so much! That means the world to us.

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