MADISON, Wis. — Kids in Madison are spending their summers learning how to code as a way to increase diversity in STEM fields.
According to the National Science Foundation, only one third of people who work in science, technology, engineering and math jobs are women. Similarly, about one third of people in those jobs are people of color.
The Madison nonprofit organization, Maydm Inc., is working to change that. It offers a summer day camp for girls and kids of color to start building STEM skills early. The program includes video game development, building apps and coding.
Ololade, 13, is working on building an app with Ewa, 10, as a part of the program.
“We’re building an animal soundboard,” Ololade said. “First, we’re working on the design of the app, not really the coding behind it.”
As a recent college graduate and Maydm instructor, Anjali Gali said she’s felt the lack of diversity in STEM firsthand.
“As somebody who has experienced a lot of discrimination in my college work, I found it really difficult to feel like I was part of something bigger,” Gali said.
Jobs in STEM fields will grow more than any other category by 2031, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Research from the Department of Labor also shows salaries for STEM jobs are double the national average.
Many of the students in Maydm’s STEM camps are being exposed to these possibilities for the first time.
“For me, all of it is really challenging, because it’s new for me,” said Ewa. “I’ve never done this type of stuff before, but I think it’s really cool and fun.”
The goal is to get kids interested in STEM early and build their confidence to know they can go into these fields and excel. And hopefully one day, they can lead and diversify the workforce.
“[Students] bring so much to the program and to the community that we’re trying to foster,” Gali said.