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

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

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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.

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BLACK GIRLS CODE HEADS BACK TO BROOKLYN FOR INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL CHILD

This Saturday, October 11th, Black Girls Code partners up with YWCA of Brooklyn to present a stellar panel of women of color STEM professionals! The goal of the event is to increase interest of girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career fields (STEM). Statistics show that people of color have been and remain underrepresented in STEM careers. By bringing more events like this one and having more programs like Black Girls Code we can help bring awareness to inner city children of all the possibilities pursuing a career in a STEM discipline can bring! We need to make more options available to them!

October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child, a day devoted to empowering girls around the world. Black Girls Code and YWCA picked a perfect day to introduce young minds to professions they may not even know exist to them! One of the main reasons I strive to open Digital Girl, Inc. is because regardless of the fact that I consistently received citywide test scores of 98 and above in Math and Science, no one ever told me once that I could be a scientist. As silly as it may seem, the truth of the matter is the scientists on TV were usually men with no resemblance my dad. Usually, they didn’t even have his accent, so it never occurred to me that I could very well be on one of those National Geographic shows I loved to watch so much growing up with my dad.

“Women and people of color are traditionally vastly underrepresented in STEM fields especially in technology where only 3% of African American women and less than 1% of Latinas receive degrees in computer science. The Women of Color Career Panel will provide girls from all corners of New York City an opportunity to be exposed to a career field in which there will be 1.4 million jobs created by the year 2020,” says Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls CODE Founder & Executive Director.

If more inner city children had access to even 1/8th of those nearly 2 million opportunities, think of the difference that would make to our communities. The strengthening of our communities lay in the empowerment of our youth. We must teach them to become confident, self sufficient, societal leaders. We must teach them to believe in themselves. We must teach them about the power of education and it’s impact on an individual, their lives and the people around them.  Martha Kamber, the YWCA of Brooklyn CEO and President says,  “The YWCA believes that educating girls about their career options, especially in higher paying nontraditional occupations, will not only support women to become leaders in these fields, it will also help close the gender wage gap.” I couldn’t agree more!

When I found out this event was coming to my hometown, I knew I couldn’t miss it! Tickets to this free event are now sold out but I am proud to say that I will be in the building taking pictures and as well as notes! I will use this event to show my local politicians and community leaders how beneficial events like these are and that we need a program like Digital Girl, Inc to be thee vessel of STEM knowledge and awareness to the Bedford-Stuyvesant youth! I hope you will stay tuned to get the highlights and take aways from this amazing event!