Good girls gone geek

Interns encourage more young women to join technology

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Consider this:

  • As of 2010, women earned 57 % of undergraduate degrees.
  • But among all recipients of undergrad computer science degrees, only 14% were women.
  • The number of computer science jobs is tripling.
  • Between 2000 and 2009, there was a 79 percent drop in the number of first-year undergraduate women considering computer science.
  • By 2020, U.S. businesses will need 1.4 million computer scientists.

Who should fill the gap? Women, says Ayna Agarwal, a Stanford Symbolic Systems major who recently joined Windows/Windows Live as a summer intern. Those statistics come from a 2013 documentary film Ayna and Ellora Israni directed.

Ayna and Ellora are co-founders of She ++, a Stanford University-based community of “budding female technologists.” Its tagline: “Good girls gone geek.”

The founders launched She++ to build a community of college women, high-school students and women in the industry—with an emphasis on mentorship.

“We thought back to high school and couldn’t think of anyone we wanted to BE who was a computer scientist and a girl,” Ayna says. “So we wanted to do something about it. And that’s how we created She ++.”

Major She++ projects have included Stanford’s first conference for expanding the role of women in tech (2012), the film, and a repeat conference this spring, known as She ++ 2.0.

Conference co-chair Saguna Goel is also here on campus as an intern in our Online Services Division as a participant in the Explore Microsoft program.

Moneta Ho Kushner and Ginger Gloystein, both Senior UX Design Leads on Windows, conducted a design panel at the conference. The Microsoft-hosted workshop was titled: “Usable, Useful, Desirable, Principled: Product Designs for Women.
Its description: “Women are the largest purchasers of consumer products in this country and companies are eager to tailor towards this demographic.  However, many products designed for women rely on stereotypes rather than good design.”

In the workshop, the Microsoft designers facilitated conversation about a range of products targeted at women including devices, games (Legos, software games like “The Sims”), and web content (Pinterest).  Participants examined these designs using the UUDP framework and determined what characterizes “successful design aimed at women.”

“It was inspiring to see the Stanford students’ enthusiasm for careers in tech,” Moneta said.  “I think they have built a lot of good momentum with the She++ conference.  There are still very few women engineers, so to get women interested in engineering, conferences like these are a step in the right direction.  Many of the attendees were high-school students considering what to study in college.  I thought that was great and wished I would have had a similar resource when I was in high school.”

LEARN MORE

In this infographic, get a glimpse of what life is like for Microsoft interns.

Meet five women of Xbox who are changing the game and five who are shifting the paradigm in Africa.

Check out our internship programs and apply here.

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