Education

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.

####

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

DIGITAL GIRL, INC. HOSTS FIRST HOUR OF CODE IN BED-STUY, BROOKLYN!

search

Before I go any further, I must first send condolences to the parents, family and friends of the two men of color who died at the hands of two police officers who have yet to suffer any repercussions for doing so. My heart also goes out to the millions of black people who fear further, for their sons, nephews, brothers, husbands and fathers after the no indictment verdict was read and had to wake up the next day to continue on as though nothing happened and racism does not exist, for I was one of them. I am empathetic to the people who are not of color who have genuine relationships with people of color and felt deep sorrow for the treatment they were witnessing as I have many dear non-black friends who felt hopeless and ashamed also. This is a sad time for our nation indeed. This moment in history, like Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, Rodney King and so many before, after and in between, will never be forgotten. These actions have undoubtedly unleashed a power that was dormant in many of us, black and white, and because of this, change is going to come. Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” We common people have finally realized that we are indeed powerful.

I am fortunate to have realized the latter statement sooner than most and as some of you may know I’ve been in the process of organizing a foundation to empower our inner-city youth, especially girls. Empowerment begins with education. Once you know better, you do better! I am proud to announce that Digital Girl, Inc. is officially recognized by New York State as 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. On December 9th and 10th we will be soft launching by hosting and facilitating “Hour of Code” at Public School 21 in Bed-Stuy! Check out the official Press Release below for more information!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

DIGITAL GIRL, INC. HOSTS FIRST HOUR OF CODE IN BED-STUY

Brooklyn, NY December 9th and 10th – Non-profit Start-Up, Digital Girl, Inc. joins the world’s largest learning event in history by hosting Hour of Code at Public School 21, Crispus Attucks Elementary School! Digital Girl, Inc will work with the 4th and 5th grade students, hoping to encourage an enthusiastic excitement to learning the concepts of computer programming.

The Hour of Code, organized by Code.org, is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in over 180 countries. Last year 15 million students worldwide learned an hour of code and over 10 million were female! That makes more girls trying computer science in one day, than there has been in total over the last 70 years! By hosting and facilitating this event, Digital Girl, Inc. will help get the Bed-Stuy community involved.

Computer science drives innovation in the US economy and society. Despite a growing demand for jobs in the field, it remains marginalized throughout the US K-12 education system. Technology and software industries suffer from an extreme lack of diversity. Hour of Code is the first step in changing this by allowing students to learn about the discipline of computer science. Last year almost half of all Hour of Code participants were girls, 8% black and 14% Hispanic. Computer Science students on average are only 18% female, 3% black and 8% Hispanic. For more information on the Hour of Code visit www.hourofcode.org.

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.

####

Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence

Most young girls know Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Disney’s High School Musical franchise but yesterday they had the chance to see her in a more professional light. Miss Coleman played her role as champion for UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign by hosting a live Google+ Hangout with U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell, Dr. Anju Malhotra and groups of women around the world including the embassies in Cairo, Katmandu and Jakarta and the School of Leadership in Afghanistan! I had the opportunity to tune in and it was truly inspiring to hear these powerful women speak on the issues that women and girls face globally. We actually got to see and hear from some of the ladies watching in the embassies as well! Hearing testimony from these women, one who shared what life if like for a young girl who begins to menstruate, was heart breaking yet inspiring to see this woman be empowered by the pain she endured to help prevent it from happening to other girls. Pain is indeed one of our most powerful catalysts.

“The Unites States makes the empowerment of women and girls a priority, not only because we believe it’s the right thing to do which obviously it is,” says Ambassador Russell, “but because, the fact is that countries where girls are empowered do better than countries where they aren’t treated equally. These countries are more stable, they’re more secure and their economy’s are better and that frankly is in the interest of the United States and the whole international community.”

The theme this year for International Day of the Girl Child is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence.” Below are some startling facts they shared:

  • One in three girls in the developing world is married by the time she is 18. 
  • 700 million current living women were married as children.
  • 250 million girls live in poverty.
  • Every year, three million girls are at risk for female genital mutilation/cutting on the African continent alone.
  • 62 million girls worldwide are out of school.

“At UNICEF we are looking to have a girls movement. We are looking for girls to join together across the world and claim their stake in where the world is going. Next year the world is going to set 15 year goals, the millennium developing goals are going to end and a new set of goals are going to be created. We want girls to be at the center of those goals and we look at you for making sure that they are,” concludes Dr. Anju Malhotra.

When I read these statistics I know I am on the right path to making the world a better place! You can do your part by supporting #GIRLHERO, a digital movement launched by Girl Up to recognize and celebrate girls. Post a photo on social media of a girl who inspires you and tag her. That girl has now been challenged to pass it forward and share who inspires her. I already know who I am going to tag, who inspires you?

If you weren’t able to catch the Hangout live, catch the footage for yourself now.

What is International Day of the Girl Child?

Starting in 2012 the United Nations marked October 11th, International Day of the Girl Child. This day is dedicated to the empowerment of girls around the world with activities partaking through various organizations worldwide. Each year has a theme and this years theme is, “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”. UN Women Executive Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will speak be speaking at the UNICEF House co-sponsored by UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and Plan International, from 12.30-2 p.m.

Today is actually Girlpreneur Day, day 9 of 11 Days of Action, a movement launched by The Day of the Girl Summit. The organization has managed to expand from just 11 devoted days to 11 months of the year! What an amazing achievement in such little time!

The entire premise of this special day makes me tingle inside. I keep thinking of all the ways Digital Girl Inc. will contribute and bring a greater awareness of this day to my community in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. While there are some events occurring throughout our borough, I have not heard of anything in this neighborhood. I know of so many children would could benefit from something such a unified push!

While I recognize my immediate surroundings need assistance, the outcry for help is loud and clear from other places around the world.  Research shows that being born a girl in this world can leave a child at a huge disadvantage in life. Around the world women can be seen as a liability or as a sexual instrument or baby making tool.  Below are just a few saddening facts according to the World Bank:

  • Globally more males are finishing primary school than women.
  • More countries hold a bias to women attending secondary school than primary.
  • Low incomes are most responsible for the disparity in most regions.
  • The 20 lowest literacy rates were found in Sub-Saharan African countries except Pakistan.

Education is key to lifting women out of poverty so it just show’s you how much work is necessary. I hope one can see that it is indeed going to take the united village, our flattened world to get women to a point where we no longer have to fight for education, quality, a voice or simple recognition as adults with feelings and thoughts the same as man. If you have more time, feel free to digest more statistics.

Are you planning to participate in International Day of the Girl Child? Here are some of the ways you can get involved!

  1. Hangout with U.S. Dept of State & Ambassador today, October 9th @ 7:30am EDT for Global Women’s Issues!
  2. Take the challenge from Pink Lemonade Stand and The Day of the Girl Summit and come up with an idea, a cause, a dream or a motto and share it with the world, using #Girlpreneur #IDG2014 #11DaysofAction GIRLPRENUER
  3. Be a part of the “Girls in the Lead” campaign of The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), where WAGGGS IDG Ambassador Maria Augustina from Argentina will be taking over the @UN Women twitter feed at 10AM EST.
  4. Join the Brighter Future Movement, brought to you by Plan’s Because I am a Girl Campaigna global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty.
  5. Host an event for Girl Up, an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation.
  6. Learn about and spread awareness about the future of girls in Bangladesh. 
  7. Take a quiz to find out how much you really know about women and poverty in the world!
  8. Get your Day of the Girl Avatar and set it as your profile pic for your social media accounts!
  9. Follow Black Girls Code and YWCA on twitter for live tweets of their Women In Color Stem Panel on October 11th!
  10. And last but not least, spend some added QT with the young girls in your life and make sure you tell them they can be anything they want to be as long as they put their minds to it!