Reflecting on my career journey, I was incredibly fortunate to be exposed to computers as a young girl. When I was just a pre-teen, my Dad brought home our family’s first x86 computer and taught me to create fractals using the BASIC programming language. I was immediately captivated by how I could change the patterns and colors simply by tweaking a few variables.
My Dad is also a powerful role model for me. He taught himself calculus and computer programming and, by his own example, showed me that I, too, could learn anything if I put in the work.
Unfortunately, many young girls, especially girls of color, don’t get this same exposure or encouragement. Research shows that 60% of girls lose interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers by the time they reach college age. This loss of interest is often the result of a dearth of relatable role models coupled with a lack of parental and teacher support.
As we celebrate National STEM Day, it’s important to acknowledge the many nonprofits around the world working to change that. To that end, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve selected our 2023 F5 STEM Education Grant Partners.
These 10 grant partners, chosen from the record-breaking 900 applications we received, are offering a wide range of programs to inspire women and girls of color to pursue STEM careers.
From providing secondary education to Indigenous girls in Guatemala to pairing STEM mentors with marginalized girls in India, these programs are touching thousands of girls and women across the globe. They’re also gradually changing the composition of these male-dominated STEM fields, opening them up to more women of color and the greater diversity of perspectives they bring.
We’re pleased to award each of these nonprofits $50,000 USD to support their STEM missions.
It’s interesting to note that at F5, it’s our employees who select our grant partners. This year’s committee, composed of 25 F5ers from seven countries and across six departments, spent one month reading, discussing, and deliberating applications before coming together to reach their final grant recommendations.
As a human-first company, we believe that enabling employees to select our grant partners expands their opportunity to make a difference in the communities F5 touches every day. As grant committee member Harika Vallabhaneni, an F5 software engineer in India, put it, “This has been a very rewarding experience. It made me look at the world from a different perspective.”
Thank you to our employees for the time and passion you brought to this effort. And congratulations to each of our 2023 STEM Education Grant partners for the important work you’re doing to expose more BIPOC girls and women to STEM careers.
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Mission: Foster excitement, confidence, and literacy in STEM for girls and gender-expansive youth from underrepresented communities by providing free, experiential programs and by maximizing meaningful interactions with women-in-STEM mentors
Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa
Mission: Support the emergence of a new cadre of ethical female African leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by training, educating, and mentoring African girls and young women from underserved communities with high-value skills