Top L – R: Annabelle Liu, Meriam Syed, and Theonne Mendiola, and bottom L – R: Maria Valadez, Aaryahi Vaidya, and Anvesha Tyagi; all received certificates for completing the MAGIC program.
Young girls are possessed of tremendous inherent power.
Just ask Ira Pramanick, founder of More Active Girls in Computing (MAGIC). For 10 years now, her organization’s seen countless middle and high school girls unlocking their power by way of learning and expanding in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
“I’m an engineer by profession; and when I was an undergrad, I was one of five women in a whole group of 200 boys,” said Pramanick, who has also worked as a software engineer for Google for the past 10 years. “It was always clear from the very beginning that there was a scarcity of women. And as I progressed through my career, I saw the percentage go down.”
And so a seed was planted within Pramanick’s heart. When it blossomed, the result was a nonprofit organization that pairs young girls with STEM mentors, allowing them the gifts of firsthand knowledge and experience.
Last Fall, MAGIC joined forces with the Milpitas Community Educational Endowment, run by Robert Jung, along with the Milpitas Unified School District. Their goal was to reach out to middle school girls to see who might be interested in working with a mentor over the next 7-8 months, to go deeper into creating, learning, and experimenting across all STEM areas.
“This is our first year of the program,” said Jung, during a May 21st closing presentation in which the middle school attendees were recognized for having completed the program. “When we started back in October, we had 50 middle schoolers from Rancho and Russell apply for the program. And we had 6 mentors, so we had to whittle that number down from 50 to these 6 girls here today. They had to apply and do an interview. It was a rigorous process.”
Robert Jung from MCEE.
For the past 9 years, MCEE has served the community by partnering up with the school district to run various programs. “We want to really get the community involved in public schools,” said Jung.
Teaming up with MAGIC helped to fulfill part of that mission.
On the closing day of presentations, the audience sat in awe as all 6 young women got up to present their experiences and projects, which ranged from conducting experiments to creating apps to designing a facial recognition-driven instrument. Five of the mentors were also present to introduce the bright young women whom they’d spent months getting to know; the physically absent mentor even popped in over video conference to introduce her mentee.
Pramanick expressed her gratitude for all the mentors who’d donated their time and energy to supporting the middle-schoolers. “All of the mentors are professionals and also academics, as well as graduate students. These girls wouldn’t be here if not for the mentors,” said Pramanick. “They’re all busy with families and careers, but are very passionate about the cause of getting more women into STEM, which is why they’ve given their precious time.”
The National Center for Women and Information Technology reported that in 2017, only 26% of professional computing occupations in the U.S. were held by women.
Young girls in this sector — and across so many other sectors — are in deep need of support, mentorship, and empowerment, the better to have a foundation upon which to start building their futures.
Organizations like MAGIC and MCEE recognize as much.
“There was a general impression that I kept getting from society…it was that they didn’t think girls were capable,” said Pramanick. “And I just wanted to break that belief because I do think girls can do it. I started this organization because I wanted to equip them with the knowledge and the confidence to make it happen.”
To learn more about MAGIC’s mentoring program, go to: http://getmagic.org
And to learn more about MCEE, go to: http://mceefoundation.weebly.com