Story by Kysa Daniels
Photos by Bill Roa
Georgia State University’s Perimeter College partners with AT&T to encourage more girls to pursue STEM professions.
CLARKSTON, Ga.—More than a dozen Atlanta-area high schoolers — most wearing black “Girls Code” T-shirts — spent time on a recent Friday in the STEM Center at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. There, they created LED flashlights and laser pointers from hollowed out lip balm tubes, batteries and tiny electrical wires.
On hand to assist the young women were computer science and engineering students who are part of Perimeter’s Women in STEM Experience (WiSE) Club on Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus, where the event took place. WiSE member Aaeshah Ibrahim assisted 15-year-old Dunwoody High School student Esha Bhat with the engineering project.
“I’m proud to be a part of Girls Who Code,” Bhat said. “It’s amazing to have an opportunity to engage with Georgia State students following STEM-based career pathways—and to learn how to use recycled items to create something interesting and needed, like a flashlight,” she added, while clicking her creation on and off.
AT&T sponsored the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program participants who visited Perimeter. The seven-week initiative is designed to expose the girls to opportunities, such as coding, that exist in technology.
In addition to the hands-on activity at Perimeter, the girls also learned the basics of computer science through robotics, video games, app developments and other projects. The overarching goal for Girls Who Code is to close the gender gap in technology and encourage girls’ interest in tech industry careers.
“AT&T is committed to closing the gender gap in STEM-related study and career choice,” said Brandon Hartley, AT&T Georgia area manager for external affairs. “Working with Girls Who Code is one of the ways we are preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow. We are proud to support Perimeter College’s efforts, building a pipeline to success for our area youth.”
Dr. Cynthia Lester, Perimeter College associate dean for Math, Computer Science and Engineering and for Georgia State’s Clarkston Campus, says opportunities for girls to connect with female students like those at Perimeter are important because they allow the younger students to see someone of their gender studying disciplines or pursuing careers that historically have been dominated by males.
“STEM is about inclusion, not exclusion,” Lester said. “Everybody can do STEM.”
Lester shared with the Girls Who Code students how she became interested in technology while attending grade school in rural Alabama. She and engineering professor Dr. Sahithya Reddivari, who led the workshop, encouraged the girls to give serious thought to pursuing careers in the male-dominated STEM field.
“When we bring women to the table, the projects are more diverse, they’re more creative and it’s just a better outcome all around,” Lester said.