First Lady Frances Wolf Joins ‘Girls Who Code’ CEO to Highlight Investment in STEM Education for Young Women

September 25, 2018

Philadelphia, PA – First Lady Frances Wolf today joined Girls Who Code and members of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women at the William D. Kelley School in Philadelphia to highlight a $30 million investment Governor Tom Wolf is making in STEM and computer science learning through his PAsmart initiative. During the visit, the First Lady and Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani helped to conduct a STEM lesson for elementary and middle school girls at the school.

“Last year, twice as many boys took computer science courses as girls — yet over the next 10 years, 70 percent of new jobs will require computer science skills,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “Girls Who Code is leading the way in closing the gender gap in technology across the country, including right here in Pennsylvania. PAsmart will help to expand this work by giving even more students the opportunity to earn a quality STEM education. Together, I know that we can make sure that the next decade tells a different story than the many before — one where barriers give way to opportunity and your gender, background or zip code does not determine your destiny.”

According to Girls Who Code, Pennsylvania will be the first state to promote Women in Tech lesson plans and to commit to tracking diversity data in computer science classrooms.

“It’s time that we prepare our students — specifically, our girls — for the future of work,” said Girls Who Code Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani. “With more partnerships at the state-level, we can do just that — expand opportunity to the highest-paying jobs, eliminate the gender gap in tech, and create a generation of young women technologists. We are grateful to Governor Wolf and the First Lady for their support of our work and commitment to girls in computer science.”

The governor’s PAsmart initiative is a new and innovative $30 million investment in job training and STEM education to focus on fast-growing, in-demand jobs, including:

  • $20 million for STEM and computer science education at all levels. Nearly 300,000 jobs in the commonwealth require skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Over the next decade, more than 70 percent of new jobs will require these skills.
  • $7 million for apprenticeships with a goal of doubling the number of registered apprentices by 2025. Since Governor Wolf established the commonwealth’s first Apprenticeship and Training Office in 2016, the number of registered apprentices has increased by nearly 20 percent from 13,282 registered apprentices to 15,972 statewide.
  • $3 million increase for Industry Partnerships, which bring together workers and multiple employers in the same industry in a public-private partnership to provide job training.

“At a time when there are roughly 3 million more STEM jobs available than workers, and when companies are constantly seeking a competitive edge, women remain notoriously underrepresented in the technology industry,” said Tracey Welson-Rossman, CEO of TechGirlz and member of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. “We must engage girls at a young age to help them discover, embrace and advance technology-related skills in order to diversify and fill workforce needs. We thank the Governor and First Lady for their dedication to women and girls in STEM through the PAsmart initiative.”

The initiative is built on recommendations of the governor’s Middle Class Task Force, which included leaders from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, education, and workforce development.

The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board will provide recommendations on the distribution of the $30 million in PAsmart funding, which will be driven out through a competitive grants process. Organizations that will be eligible to apply include: local education agencies; intermediate units; postsecondary institutions; local workforce development boards; public libraries; employers; labor organizations; chambers of commerce; after-school providers; education, training and workforce providers; nonprofits; community organizations; and others.

Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. Girls Who Code has reached over 90,000 girls in all 50 states and several US territories.

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