Ten bright and inquisitive young women interested in pursuing a career in technology, attended Booking.com’s inaugural Women in Tech Code-a-Thon, a two-day immersion program on April 28-29 at a state-of-the-art CNET ‘SMART’ Home in the heart of San Francisco.
Booking.com, a worldwide leader in technology and digital travel, invited young women between the ages of 16 and 19 from around the United States to apply for the opportunity to attend the symposium aimed to support and advance the prospects of women in the field of STEM.
Offering the roster of diverse teens hailing from Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington and California a hands-on and up-close-and-personal adventure in STEM-based curriculum, the future technology innovators attended several tech-related sessions where they were introduced to web development, built a simple personal website, toured Booking.com’s San Francisco office and spent time with Booking.com tech team members who provided one-on-one guidance and assistance to each young lady based on their progress and skill set level.
The teens also learned the importance of women entering the field of technology to create a diverse workforce for the future and how to overcome their fears regarding the industry from female members of the design and programming team at Booking.com’s Amsterdam Headquarters.
According to a 2018 report by global consultancy McKinsey, in the U.S., women make up just 23% of high school Advanced Placement computer science exam takers, 19% of computer and information science bachelor’s degree recipients and 26% of the computing workforce.
Booking.com’s research revealed women still perceive their gender to be detrimental to pursuing a career in STEM despite technology being an appealing industry for women overall, with 52% attributing this misconception to tech industry’s overwhelmingly male-dominated workforce.
Monday’s event concluded with a reception featuring the award-winning actress and women empowerment activist Laura Dern, who met with the young women, discussed her passion for encouraging women to enter the field of STEM and asked the girls about the symposium, their entrepreneurial goals and how STEM plays a role in their pursuit of those goals.
“I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of such an impactful event for young women,” Dern said. “I’ve played many strong female characters throughout my career, but nothing compares to the strength and passion I’ve seen from these incredible young women today. I’m proud to work with Booking.com on the inspiring initiatives they are doing to uplift and inspire women in technology.”
Dern also announced future Women in Tech initiatives along with new scholarship initiatives with two leading universities designed to provide female students with necessary funding to advance their education in STEM at two leading universities.
Undergraduate students at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and postgraduate women students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, studying subjects including computer and information science, engineering, technology and mathematics, will receive grants equal to more than $350,000 across both schools, with scholarships starting in the 2019-20 academic year.
“Technology is one of the key drivers of social change and economic growth today, and the strong under-representation of women studying STEM subjects and participating in the tech workforce threatens to deepen the current social divide and further accentuate gender stereotypes,” said Gillian Tans, Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com.
“This is why I believe it is so important to encourage and empower more young women to pursue and advance their tech education and start a tech career. The more women we have engaging with STEM, the greater chance we will have to turn these stereotypes in tech around and make the industry a more welcoming place for people of all backgrounds to thrive.”