Steam

Camarillo, Calif., March 16, 2016 — An estimated 100 Ventura County girls ages 9 to 12 will collaborate with female mentors during the second annual CSU Channel Islands (CI) STEAM Hackathon on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Through a partnership with the Small Business Institute at CI and an educational technology company called SOCIHACKS, girls from low-income families will spend a day working with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) mentors to create websites and public service announcement videos regarding the environment in honor of earth month.

The girls will be divided into 10 teams of 10 girls with two or three role models in each team.

“The goal is to provide a collaborative, hands-on Hackathon where girls will work together in teams to develop websites and videos that will be shared online,” said Assistant Professor of Marketing Susan Andrzejewski, Ph.D. “The youth will present their work to their peers, faculty and parents/guardians by the end of the day.”

The doors will open to the public at 1 p.m. in Malibu Hall, Room 100, on the CI campus for those who would like to see the girls present their work at 2 p.m.

“SOCIHACKS: Hackathons for social good” is a company aimed at giving low income youth access to technology and exposure to STEAM careers that need them.

Through these hands-on events, participants explore career paths in science, technology, engineering, art and math. The goal is to have the girls communicate, collaborate, think critically and creatively to develop 21st century global economy skills.

Through partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and civic organizations, SOCIHACKS offers the curriculum at no cost to youth or their families.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up 47 percent of the work force, but are poorly represented in well-paying science, engineering and technology careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women make up 39 percent of chemists and material scientists; about 28 percent are environmental and geoscientists and just 8.3 percent are electrical or electronics engineers.

Men and women of color are even more poorly represented in STEM careers. Minorities make up just 10 percent of all those working in science and engineering occupations and just one in 10 STEM professionals is a woman of color.

SOCIHACKS President and CEO Melissa Carlysle said this is often because low income or minority students are not given access to or encouraged to take STEM-related courses in high school, which is why she wants to interest girls while they’re still in middle school or younger.

“There is a significant lack of ethnic and gender diversity when it comes to STEAM careers,” Carlysle said. “In a time when students must develop skills in scientific and technological innovations, many young girls are not encouraged or supported to pursue careers in STEAM.”

Allison Carlysle, co-founder of SOCIHACKS, a computer programmer and technology consultant by profession, was the only female in her Internet Technology classes.

“I think most people envision programmers as young guys sitting alone in their parent’s basements downing soda while taking down the web,” Allison said. “While I can confirm the soda addiction is true, I think it’s important to show both young people that there are many successful women in technology fields today and throughout history.”

For instance, in the beginning of World War II, actress Hedy Lamarr built technology to help the Navy remotely control torpedoes, but she is remembered mostly for her physical attributes, Allison said, adding that this type of perception needs to change. 

CI’s Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics is sponsoring the event with SOCIHACKS; SOCIHACKS seeks to build partnerships with other community focused businesses, nonprofits, civic organizations and fundraisers to offer their curriculum at no cost to youth or their families. For more information about the event, please visit www.socihacks.com.

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI's strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master's degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI's Social Media.