Last month, on Friday, February 22, 2019, Milpitas High School’s STEMgirls paid an exclusive visit to Facebook’s campus.
STEMgirls President Tran Le described the organization as follows: “A nonprofit organization at Milpitas High School (MHS) that strives to encourage girls to increase their interest and comfort in Science, Math, and Technology through the means of guest speakers, conferences, workshops, and STEM tutoring in hopes of decreasing the gender gap in the STEM fields.”
STEMgirls first got going last year (after previously existing in a different form years prior), then planned their official launch over last summer and went into action this past fall. The organization also hosts a free after-school STEM program at Weller Elementary School, and offers tutoring to MHS students.
Their Facebook visit was hosted by Yale alumni and Facebook software engineer Alan Liu. Fifteen STEMgirls went in to get a tour of the campus and also attend a panel, conducted by three women Facebook engineers. After the panel, a Q&A was held so the visiting students could ask questions.
Before the panel, said Le, “At lunch, we got to chat with women who work at Facebook as engineers.”
They also saw a virtual reality project in progress, along with various women employees at the company: “One was a manager for Instagram, one was an intern, one was doing social research. For example, on Facebook, we have the different reactions, like the ‘like’, heart, things like that. She was researching what are the five universal reactions that Facebook could use.”
In addition: “We also met people from a wide variety of backgrounds. People have the stigma that you have to be this amazing person to work at Facebook, but they hire all different types of people, and as long as you can do what they ask for, then anything is possible.”
When the day was over, STEMgirls surveyed all its student participants. Strikingly, 100% of the girls came away from their Facebook tour considering engineering as a valid career choice. Given that the field is dominated by men (to the tune of 87%), this shows a positive tilt in the right direction.
Take a look at this video from the event (shot & edited by Sandra Nguyen):