computer science

The Birth of A Solar System

I am the product of the public school system. Growing up with consistently high grades in math and science I would ultimately end up attending Brooklyn Technical High School, one of New York City’s specialized public high schools dedicated to Engineering, Math and Science.  However, I was there by default and had little interest in such areas. Even though I maintained such grades, I never had anyone encourage me to be a Scientist or an Engineer and really could not understand the value of the resources available to me.

It wasn’t until I graduated from college with a degree in Business Management and Marketing and landed my first position out of college where I unexpectedly ended up managing our digital advertising that I began to explore the possibilities of working in the tech field. At that time, the Internet was just exploding and the true value of the digital realm was just being realized. I became obsessed with all things tech and began to educate myself. I was completely captivated and in awe that I hadn’t already known these things.

One day, while sitting for a tutorial with the engineering department, I took a look around and realized that I was the only black, female in the room. Always curious, I wondered what a career in the tech field might look like and started conducting research. My findings were bittersweet. While these professions were well paying, with women working in STEM making 33% more than women who don’t, thelikelihood of finding someone with a background like mine was extremely low. Only 26% are women, one in 10 STEM professionals are minority women and 74% of STEM professionals are white.I also learned that while there is a lack of minority representation in STEM, the United States in general, is lagging in production of STEM professionals. Half the workforce approaching retirement, in order to remain competitive we must attract and retain a diverse, domestic workforce at home. With minorities projected to account for half of the nation’s population by 2020, a logical solution would be to tap into this under resourced talent pool.

After dissecting this information I saw the opportunity to take my Business and Marketing skills into the digital sector. As I began to implement this shift in my career I couldn’t shake the nagging question of, “How can I get other people in my demographic to see this value too?” Thus Digital Girl, Inc. (DGI) was born.

DGI was created with a mission to empower inner city youth to pursue careers and studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). We aim to be the bridge for students between education and how it can be applied to their future. We hope to bring awareness to students about non-traditional professions in STEM fields in order to close the achievement gap that currently exists in the STEM fields. We want to give inner city students the ability to relate to the technology we consume every day and bring added value to the education they are receiving. Education without passion is like a candle with no flame – takes up space but serves no purpose.

Sometimes I wonder, where I would be if just one person might have brought to my attention that I had all the makings of a future astronaut. But then I look around the classroom, at all the children we are working with and realize, I am right where I am supposed to be. Among my own set of stars, my very own solar system and imagine that for the few hours we are with them, maybe we are their sun. Providing light and nourishment; allowing them to grow into all they can be. Helping to guide them through love and understanding because after all I am and will always be the children that Digital Girl, Inc. serves.

– Michelle Gall, Executive Director, Digital Girl, Inc.

Michelle Gall Digital Girl

DIGITAL GIRL, INC. HOSTED FIRST HOUR OF CODE FOR 4th AND 5th GRADERS IN BEDFORD STUYVESANT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Michelle Gall, Executive Director 347.857.8647; Toni Robinson, Consultant 646.302.7068

DIGITAL GIRL, INC. HOSTED FIRST HOUR OF CODE FOR 4th AND 5th GRADERS IN BEDFORD STUYVESANT

Non-profit Start-Up, Digital Girl, Inc. hosted Hour of Code for 200 4th and 5th grade students (along with 10 teachers) on December 9th & 10th. Held at PS 21, Crispus Attucks Elementary School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, students were able to join the world’s largest learning event in history geared towards introducing girls and the under represented to the basic concepts of computer programming.​

The response from the students and teachers was overwhelming, “I love this so much, I will code until I die” remarked one student. Another student stated, “This day was the best day of my life.” While another commented, “I got to understand what coding is and how to use it. It is important to understand coding when using technology.” The principal was also impressed and excited and inquired, “When can you return?” upon the completion on the 8th and last class. Digital Girl, Inc. is in talks with the administration to develop an ongoing relationship.

The Hour of Code, organized by Code.org, is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in over 180 countries. During the event, students were guided by Toni Robinson, a software engineer, and tutorials provided by Code.org on completing coding exercises. By hosting and facilitating this event, Digital Girl, Inc. helped to demystify code and expose the majority of students claiming no prior knowledge of coding. It was Digital Girl’s goal to inspire the girls at an early age to pursue careers women and people of color have historically lacked a presence in. Technology and software industries suffer from an extreme lack of diversity. Computer Science students on average are only 18% female, 3% black and 8% Hispanic.

Digital Girl Incorporated is a not for profit organization dedicated to empowering the underserved young girls of Bedford Stuyvesant to pursue careers in STEM disciplines, therefore maximizing their potential to be contributing individuals in society. Newly founded, the Hour of Code program will serve as a soft launch to the many initiatives to come in 2015!

For more information on Digital Girl, Inc., contact: Michelle Gall, 347.857.8647 or Toni Robinson at 646.302.7068.

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Media Coverage

http://brooklyn.news12.com/news/bed-stuy-students-learn-to-code-video-games-with-hour-of-code-initiative-1.9697858

http://dnainfo.com/new-york/20141210/bed-stuy/technology-nonprofit-teaches-coding-brooklyn-girls