What is BridgeUP STEM?
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. Through this NCWIT-Georgia Tech partnership, aspiring high school and undergraduate computing researchers are exposed to experiences, inspiration, and opportunities afforded by the program’s location in an elite research university.
In the year-long program, high school participants, called BridgeUP STEM Scholars, first enhance their coding skills through a non-credit four-week coding summer class. Then during the academic year, they gain knowledge and experience with real world computing research through a class facilitated by BridgeUP STEM Faculty Mentors, their graduate student teams, and their undergraduate Helen Fellows. At the same time, the undergraduate Fellows enhance their research skills through their work in the BridgeUP STEM Faculty members’ labs. To add to the richness of the program, the Scholars and the Fellows engage in interactive, fun activities and community events throughout the program. Learn more about the program in the video below.
Percentages of current scholars reporting positively on the results of their participation in the program.
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.
Why join BridgeUP STEM?
BridgeUP STEM provides paid experiences for groups historically underrepresented in computing to foster participants’ development and persistence in computing as the next wave of computer science researchers. BridgeUP STEM increases participants’ sense of belonging in computing and their confidence and knowledge to pursue and sustain innovative, socially impactful computing careers. By engaging with a community of peers, near-peers, and academic computing researchers, BridgeUP STEM Scholars and Helen Fellows are prepared and inspired to address the technological and societal demands of the future.
Interested in Joining BridgeUP STEM?
If you would like to know more about BridgeUP STEM, please contact us using the Interest Form.
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.