Scripps College Academy and Claremont Graduate University Awarded $10,000 National Grant

SCA Computer LabScripps College Academy (SCA) and the Claremont Graduate University (CGU) have been awarded a $10,000 national grant to create a new project designed to encourage more women to pursue careers in computing and technology.

The Claremont-Scripps Computer Academy will open this spring with workshops and mentoring for female graduate and undergraduate college students who may be interested in the male-dominated fields of technology and computer science.

In the fall, these college students will then teach one-day workshops for female high school students from the greater Los Angeles area. The initiative will foster mentoring opportunities between college students at the undergraduate and graduate levels and female high school students.

“We hope that the collaboration among faculty, undergrads, and high school students will lead to a supportive community that will give the students opportunities to meet women working in these fields, and will enable them to see themselves in these careers,” says SCA Academic Coordinator Mary Hatcher-Skeers, professor of chemistry at Keck Science Department.

An increasing number of Scripps College students are preparing for occupations in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In 2010, 29 percent of the College’s graduates received degrees in science, engineering, and math. In contrast, only 13 percent of graduates in 2000 earned a degree in one of those fields.

National statistics, however, reveal that few women pursue careers in STEM fields. For instance, women hold 56 percent of all professional jobs in the U.S. workforce, but only 25 percent of IT jobs, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

The grant will enhance Scripps College Academy’s five-year-old Math and Science Scholars program, where young women are trained by college faculty to conduct research in STEM fields.

“Exposing students to technology and computer-related fields, however, has been limited,” Hatcher-Skeers says. “Through this initiative with CGU, we will expand on these important areas.”

The new initiative was one of only five nationwide to receive a grant from NCWIT and Microsoft Research Academic Alliance Seed Fund. Kelly Hewitt, director of SCA, and Gondy Leroy, associate professor in CGU’s School of Information Systems and Technology, are leading the project.

SCA is a year-round college-readiness program for high-achieving young women from the greater Los Angeles area. The majority of participants are the first in their families to attend college. Scripps College faculty and staff mentor the women so that they develop the confidence and skills to be well-prepared college applicants, successful college students, and professionals who inspire positive, lasting change.

NCWIT is a national coalition of more than 300 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits working to increase the participation of women in technology and computing.