What is BridgeUP STEM?
Funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation and realized through a partnership between the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), the BridgeUP STEM program is designed to encourage high school and college students who identify as girls, women, or non-binary (of all backgrounds) to explore, prepare for, and pursue pathways into computing research careers. High school student participants, called BridgeUP STEM Scholars, attend a summer coding class and an academic year-long computing research class, receive mentoring from undergraduates and Georgia Tech graduate students and professors, and participate in community events. Participating undergraduate computer science majors, called Helen Fellows, serve as teaching assistants and mentors for high school students in the coding and research classes, and participate in cutting-edge lab research under the guidance of Faculty Mentors and their graduate students.
Why is BridgeUP STEM important?
Historically, women and non-binary individuals are underrepresented in technology careers. According to the 2021 Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57% of professional occupations in the U.S. workforce were held by women, but only 26% of professional computing occupations were held by women. Of those women, only 3% identify as Black or African American and 2% Hispanic or Latina. There are no statistics for Native American women.
Research has identified four essential components that promote students (of all backgrounds) to enter and persist in computing: (1) awareness of career opportunities and educational pathways to get there; (2) computing knowledge and skills; (3) confidence (aka “self-efficacy”); and (4) a sense of belonging in computing, including both local communities like computer science classes and college departments, as well as in the field of computing in general. To broaden participation in computing, BridgeUP STEM has carefully designed and implemented a program that fosters the development of these four components among high school and undergraduate participants. Rigorous evaluation has found that BridgeUP STEM is successful in supporting aspiring computer science researchers.
What makes BridgeUP STEM unique?
Through its long-standing partnership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, NCWIT and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing established the first university-based BridgeUP STEM program in the United States in 2021.
Funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, BridgeUP STEM brings together a diverse community of Atlanta-area high school girls and non-binary individuals, who are interested in pursuing computing careers, with Georgia Tech College of Computing undergraduate mentors, research faculty, and graduate students.
Aspiring high school and undergraduate computing researchers are exposed to experiences, inspiration, and opportunities afforded by its location within one of the top computing programs in the country while utilizing NCWIT’s programmatic and research expertise, national infrastructure, and connection to a network of over twenty thousand technical women in computing.
Interested in Joining BridgeUP STEM?
Funding for the BridgeUP STEM program is provided by a generous grant from the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.