Thursday, October 8, 2015

Girl Power: Reducing the gender gap mini keynote

In honor of #InternationalWomensDay, I'm reposting this as a reminder we need keep pushing. We need to raise up female voices. We need to remind each other we are brave and smart before being "pretty." Let's build each other up!


In October, I had the honor of speaking to K-12 girls about the power of STEM education and STEM careers.

Thinking about what to say to motivate fellow girls was more difficult than I thought. Thinking about what keeps me in the field and what would keep others in the field was difficult.

So, I thought I'd share my thoughts I spread to the girls. What would you say?



Speaking of Hangouts, if you could “hangout” anywhere, where would you go? Would you go to the White House? To Antarctica? To visit the Queen of England? I want you to Dream big. Look to the right and tell the person. 

That’s the question I ask myself often. I have Scuba Dived in the Great Barrier Reef, ridden a mule down the Grand Canyon, toured the Palace of Versailles, spoken to astronauts while in the International Space Station, and examined the ruins of historic Pompeii - And, I did it all from my home, for free as a result of technology.

As the technology integration coordinator, tech is a part of my daily life, but it wasn’t always that way. 

When I was younger, I wanted to be either an astronaut or an archaeologist, both of which are science-related careers. But, when I entered middle school, my dreams changed. I no longer saw myself as a top math and science student. Instead, it seemed those classes were only for boys. So, I drifted away and eventually became a high school English teacher. How’s that for a change?

The one thing that has remained constant in my life is my love for art. I love to create. I love to “recycle” trash and turn it into “treasure.” My parents used to complain because they’d come home and find old spray bottles from the neighbors’ trash laying around the floor. I discovered that if you mix sweethearts, the candy, with water and put it in a spray bottle, you have air freshener. Little did I know at the time, but you also have an bug-attracter. 

You see - I was an inventor. I am an inventor. 

We each know something no one else in the world knows. What can you teach someone that only you know? 

When I started teaching high school English, I integrated art, lots of it. We made music videos, documentaries, quilts, and so much more. After my first year of teaching, though, my principal came to me and said “you are going to be one of our teachers with tech, an emints teacher.” At that moment, I became more than an English teacher; I became a tech integration teacher. My fellow teachers started to come to me to ask for help designing Websites and integrating technology. 

I wasn’t doing the science and math that I remembered in middle school so I had no idea why others were coming to me for help. What could I offer them? Then I realized what it was - it was my inventor self. They wanted my creativity in solving problems. They wanted me as an inventor. They found out the thing I knew that no one else knew. 

I didn’t start out as tech person. I still don’t even like to call myself that. I am an inventor. And, my love for inventing is what has driven me. It drove me to technology. 

Recently, I dove into makerspaces. I made cards that light up. I made a cardboard guitar that plays music when I speak. I made my own lamp. I programmed a mechanical ball to chase my mean cat around the house. Check it out! {Biskers’ video} I’d like to add that I am working on a way to program the ball to speak as well. 

I have been making these types of projects most of my life. But, I never knew there was a whole community for them. I never knew I could get a job because of these projects. 

But, here I am today.

You don’t have to be a scientist, a doctor, or an astronaut to be successful. You don’t have to be a stellar math or science student. But, you do need to create. You need to know what makes you, you. You can start that by using technology to define and create who you are. Who are you? Dream big.

Here is some inspiration to help you dream big:

Did you know the first computer programmer was a woman? Well, it was! Her name is Ada Lovelace and she did it in 1833! 

  • Girls make up MORE of college graduates than boys, but just 12% of computer science degrees are awarded to women.
  • In middle school, 74% of girls express interest in Science, tech & math, but when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of high school girls select computer science.
  • Women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but hold just 25% of the jobs in technical or computing fields.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs.

YOU can change those numbers. You can be part of those numbers.

Why do you want to change those numbers? 

I changed those numbers and I am now the first female in tech in my school. I have traveled the world virtually. I have helped design our future. You have an important place in that future. 

I joined and helped create EdTech Women-Austin. It’s a place for women in technology. It’s a place for us to learn, to share, and to create. I challenge you to join a program like these:

  • Made with Code: (make Yeti together)
  • She ++
  • Girls Who Code
  • Makerfaires

I have five challenges for you to do today:  make one new friend, learn something new, create something, and join something. 

Girls - we are changing the world by being ourselves. You have a place in whatever career field you decide. You are enough. Use your peers to get involved. Start a girls who code club or join one. Create, create, and create. 

Set forth and create your futures! Have an awesome day learning!"

Check out more statistics and programs for girls in my Girl Power presentation. You can read more at

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