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Girls and Gigabytes: Expanding Opportunity for African American Women in STEM

The White House hosted 150 African American girls for a day of mentoring, panels, and workshops on math, science, engineering and technology. See what they learned.

Today, the White House hosted “Girls and Gigabytes,” anevent bringing together 150 middle and high school-aged girls from across 15 states fora day of mentoring, panels, and workshops on STEM topics. As part of initiatives surrounding Black History Month, the event aimed to inspire African American girls, and make clear that they have access to educational opportunities and careers in STEM.

After hearing from a panel of African American women in STEM, moderated by comedian and talk show host from The Real, Loni Love, the girls had the chance to experience different aspects of technology. This included workshops on coding, virtual reality, gaming, building and operating robots, and more. Take a look:

Girls try on Oculus Gear VR headsets
In a session on virtual reality technology, girls learn about 360 degree videos and try on Oculus Gear VR headsets. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)
Girls design their own apps
In a session on coding and creating applications, girls work together to design their own app. After drawing it out, they presented their ideas to the group. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)
A “Girls and Gadgets” participant learns how to operate a robot in a workshop on thewonders of engineering. (Photo by Kelly Jo Smart)

The day concluded with an interactive conversation with Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Lisa Gelobter, The White House/Chief Digital Service Officer at the U.S. Department of Education. Both women shared stories about their journeysinto STEM,and encouragedgirls to try and make an impact on the world through science and technology. They also explained to attendees that having skills in computer science and other STEM fieldscan be brought to any fieldgirls are passionate about from music to sports to education.

The “Girls and Gigabytes” event is just one of the many ways the Obama Administration has been working to expand STEM education and employment opportunities to all students. From early in his Administration, President Obama has made improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a priority—he believes that every American student deserves access to a high-quality education in STEM for both their future and for the Nation’s future.

“One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.” — President Barack Obama, February 2013

Kalisha Dessources is Policy Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls

Learn more:

Read more about the White House’s Women in STEM initiatives

Read more about Computer Science for All

Read more about STEM for All