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Women’s Empowerment: The Path to Diversity in STEM

I am thrilled to be joining the Editorial Board of Tech Diversity Magazine. Angela Cleveland and I wrote a piece on our initiative: ReigningIt 👑

Full article here: http://techdiversitymagazine.org/2016/05/17/reigningit/

Over 50% of working professionals, the people on Facebook, the people on Twitter, are women. Women are the highest consumers of online products, and we need more women represented in the workplace to design features and interfaces. This is a challenge that Saqi Mehta and Angela Cleveland are passionate in helping confront.

We met back in 2000 while getting our Masters Degree in Education at The University of Pennsylvania. Though we became fast friends and classmates, we never thought that 16 years later we would be co-founders of a mission together to help solve the issues above. Read on as we discuss how we’ve melded our work and passion into a worthy cause: Women in STEM.

Solving the Education Gap: Angela Cleveland
I am a professional school counselor and certified Google educator. I had been observing a nationwide disparity between boys and girls taking and excelling in math and science classes. I found several international studies that show boys and girls either performing equally well or girls leading in math and science subjects. I wondered: what makes America the outlier and what can we do to advance change?

By 2020 there will be 1.4 million Computer Science jobs but only 400,000 Computer Science students. At the same time, women earn 60% of BS degrees but only 18% are majoring in CS. And while gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform companies that are not, only 30% of businesses in America are led or founded by women. What can we do to build girls’ confidence in and foster a passion for these areas of study?

Solving the Recruiting Gap: Saqi Mehta
I’ve spent my career first as a Career Counselor and then on the Recruiting side, looking for the next generation of talent on college campuses. In speaking with thousands of women over the years via info sessions, coffee chats, roundtables, hackathons and conferences (among other means), I’ve heard stories of women not wanting to be the first female intern at a company: to be the first representative is a huge responsibility that not everyone wants to carry. As they say, “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”

The other challenge college women often face is that they learn theory in school but are not equipped with the right tools around how to apply that in the real world. There is a need for both mentors and peers: an open and safe community where women can share their experiences and ideas. Coming from San Francisco, I was also surprised to see a lack of exposure to tech opportunities on the East Coast.

Joining Forces: The Evolution of ReigningIt
Pablo Picasso once said “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” We reflected on our career paths and life journeys, and felt the shared calling to take action to effect real change. We both knew the best way to show women and young girls what it means to major and work in the STEM fields is by providing a platform for story-sharing. The women highlighted in our #WomenWhoReign interviews are diverse, passionate, and have the courage to share their real life successes and challenges.

A Call to Action
ReigningIt was co-founded by Angela Cleveland and Saqi Mehta. It is working to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial women to delve into STEM. By profiling inspirational women in STEM, we offer a unique opportunity to see the many applications of technology in a real world setting. Our goal is to create a dialogue inclusive of every woman’s unique background, life experiences, and beliefs. ReigningIt is ultimately a call to action: What problems do you want to solve? How can we use technology to make our world a better place? How can we build a strong, empowered network of mentorship to reign our lives? Find out more! You can follow ReigningIt on Medium, Twitter, Google+, Facebook,Pinterest, and Instagram!