Inspiring the next generation of Canadian girls in technology and engineering
Guest post by Sarah Chun (Stanford AI4ALL ’17)
AI4ALL Editor’s note: Meet Sarah Chun, a 2017 Stanford AI4ALL (formerly SAILORS) alumna. Below, Sarah fills us in on the work she’s been doing in her hometown of London, Ontario, Canada to make AI more accessible to young women through her organization Girls in TE.
It was early September and the beginning of a new school year when I remember the surprise and confusion registering on my male classmate’s faces as I walked into my introductory computer science class. Perhaps, it was because I was the only female student in my course, or because they hadn’t expected me, an outgoing, cheerful, proactive girl, to be interested in coding or robotics at all.
Fast forward to the winter break of freshman year, when I was deciding how I wanted to spend my summer. I came across Stanford AI4ALL (formerly SAILORS), Stanford University and AI4ALL’s AI research program targeted towards high school girls interested in computer science, just like me! I excitedly went through the application process, and was thrilled when I learned I was accepted in to this life-changing program.
At Stanford, I was immersed in a community full of talented and inspiring girls who were passionate about changing the world through artificial intelligence. During this program, I met my current best friends (and future co-workers!) and was empowered by female leaders in the technology and engineering field like Olga Russakovsky, Fei-Fei Li, and many more. Additionally, I had the opportunity to create a computer vision algorithm that could detect poverty in Uganda using Google Satellite Images (alongside 7 of my amazing research group members)!
After the program, I returned to my home of London, Ontario, Canada, where I felt compelled to share what I have learned from Stanford AI4ALL, and to create change for girls in my community. I started by becoming a mentor at Ladies Learning Code, where I led workshops on machine learning and Intro to Web Design, and then became a counselor at Bit By Bit Computer Science Camp.
This September, I decided to create opportunities for young girls in my Canadian community to learn more about the field of technology and engineering. This is why I (alongside my best friend and co-founder Cindy Xie) created Girls in Technology and Engineering (or Girls in TE), a non-profit organization that aims to inspire the future generation of girls in technology and engineering.
In December, we hosted our inaugural event, the Girls in TE Career Talk, sponsored by 3M Canada and Western University’s Computer Science Department — an exciting start to our organization! For the event, Girls in TE invited 30 local high school girls with little to no experience in the field of computer science, and 7 female tech leaders from Google, 3M, Airbnb, and Shopify. Through inspiring keynote speeches, coding conversations, and a Q&A session, many of our attendees reported an interest in pursuing a career in computer science and becoming involved with Girls in TE.
In the future, Girls in TE is planning to launch a mentorship program, host field trips to local tech companies, and create a hackathon just for female high school students. The ultimate goal of Girls in TE is to create opportunities for high school girls to explore and engage in the field of technology and computer science. Feel free to reach out to Girls in TE for partnership, outreach, and sponsorship opportunities at girlsinte (at) gmail.com.
Sarah Chun is a sophomore at London Central Secondary School, in London, Canada. She is a passionate female advocate, Ward 13 Councilor of London Youth Advisory Council, and recently co-founded Girls in TE. In the future, Sarah plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or biomedical engineering. You can follow Girls in TE on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.