The STEM Gap: Empowering Girls to Pursue STEM Careers
The Capital One Coders program is helping girls gain early access to computer science education and inspire their interest in STEM
December 3, 2021
When Capital One software engineer Dominique Meeks Gombe began partnering with the Capital One Coders program and the Central Virginia-based Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school-aged Black girls, she hoped to serve as a role model to show the girls participating that they too could succeed in a field that is disproportionately male-heavy.
“I’m so passionate about technology because that’s where the world is going,” said Meeks Gombe. “All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective. Otherwise it is very likely that my 'problem' would remain unsolved.”
Through participating in the Coders program, girls can gain early access to computer science education, which can directly inspire their confidence level and interest in computer science. According to a report from Code.org, Black and Hispanic students who take computer science classes before college are seven to eight times more likely to major in computer science.
Showing Girls That There is a Future for Women in STEM
Meeks Gombe’s visibility as a Black technologist and leader has the potential to create a lasting impact on her students. As a 2017 Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis study indicates, students whose everyday teachers reflected similar demographic characteristics reported more positive benefits and had higher college aspirations.
For Capital One Vice President of Human Resources Technology, Maureen Jules-Perez — who also serves as the organization’s Board Chair — the mission of the nonprofit parallels her motto of “Tech For Good,” which uses tech to improve social, environmental and economic outcomes.
“I came from a similar background so I feel like I’m one of those girls,” said Jules-Perez. “I know what it’s like to have someone champion you, but also the opposite feeling of knowing someone who doesn’t think you’re worthy.”
How Capital One is Helping to Close the STEM Gap
Capital One's support comes as part of the Capital One Impact Initiative — an initial $200 million, multi-year commitment that strives to advance socioeconomic mobility. Launched in October 2020, the Capital One Impact Initiative seeks to create a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to prosper through advocating for an inclusive society, building thriving communities and creating financial tools that enrich lives.
Capital One has supported 15 different technology, workforce, or pro bono programs with Girls for A Change. Seven of these programs were Coders camps. Collectively, nearly 80 Capital One Tech associates have supported Girls For A Change girls over the last few years through these programs.
Beyond helping girls see their potential as future technologists, Girls For A Change CEO Angela Patton is working hard to help realize the unmet needs of young people who have natural gifts and innate potential and aren’t defined by their circumstances.
“Capital One has joined us in our movement of being unapologetic about being a Black woman and advocates for the needs that our girls have,” Patton. “They’ve stepped in and supported Girls for a Change by filling in the gaps that we see our girls face through providing access, resources and mentorship along the way.”
Go deeper: Patton speaks to how Girls for a Change is helping realize the unmet needs of young girls who have natural gifts and innate potential.