September 27, 2016 | Dearborn, MI
Closing the STEAM Gender Gap

As part of its expanding support for STEAM educational programs, Ford Motor Company has joined with Girls Who Code, a non-profit that teaches computer science to sixth through 12th grade girls. The company is hosting daylong tech events at its Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California.

“The girls get the chance to see what cool projects exist at a company like Ford that involve the use of code, so they can envision how what they’re learning right now can be used in the future,” said Ford research scientist Sarah Houts, a panelist at one of the events. “They also get to see the diverse backgrounds of the people who work on those projects so they can gain an understanding that code is a tool with applications for nearly every field.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in STEAM related fields will grow to more than 9 million by 2022. Both women and men are needed to fill those jobs.

“The use of technology is growing exponentially among young people, yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract them to technology-related educational programs,” said Marcy Klevorn, Ford chief information officer. “Ford is working with Girls Who Code to educate them on the many exciting career opportunities available in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. This kind of outreach grows more important each year.”

So far this year, Ford has held three sessions with Girls Who Code, and recently hired two alumni as interns. One is working with augmented reality models and menus, the other with Java and Android. Already, each of these young women has produced work resulting in her being listed as sole inventor in separate invention disclosures – the first step in securing a patent.

The collaboration has been rewarding for Ford and Girls Who Code. “This program has been a great success,” said Jeffry Keiffer, manager human resources in Palo Alto. “We hope to continue the relationship in 2017.”