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S.T.E.A.M. + S2

2011-03-08-Science_Wonder_Artsteam

FUTURE ECONOMIC SUCCESS REQUIRES INNOVATION

The strength of the US economy in the future will be determined by our success in innovation versus the existing developed nations and their economies and, probably more importantly, the emerging nations and their rapidly developing economies.

STEAM – NOT STEM WHITEPAPER

An agreement on what drives the US economy in the future

Even in today’s very politically partisan time there is one point of agreement between most of the political leaders when it comes to the future of our economy – it is

The strength of the US economy in the future will be determined by our success in innovation versus the existing developed nations and their economies and, probably more importantly, the emerging nations and their rapidly developing economies.

Clinton’s former Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, summed up this need for innovation to drive our future when he predicted,

“The jobs in the greatest demand in the future don’t yet exist and will require workers to use technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems that we don’t yet even know are problems.”

What he predicted is already occurring.

The US economy in the future will not be based on replacing the existing industrial jobs that have been lost, as technology has moved forward.

So, given this unique agreement on national policy, the question isn’t what is necessary for our economic future – it is being the, or at least “a”, leader in innovation.  Rather it is how do we best prepare our businesses, our leaders and our nation to make this happen?

What is the current US position in ranking of nations for innovation?

Until 2008 the US was routinely ranked 1st as the most innovative economy in the world by various surveys.  That is no longer true.  A recent study of 58 countries published in the World Competitiveness Yearbook showed that the US is no longer 1st and has slipped to 3rd behind Singapore and Hong Kong with Switzerland 4th.  The most recent World Economic Forum rankings placed the US 4th behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore.  A Boston Consulting Group poll put the US 8th..  The recent Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) ranked the US 6th.

These data based studies and surveys may differ on who is 1st – but they do agree  – it is not the US!

Also disturbing, is the outlook that the US ranking will slip further. For example, the ITIF report showed that in recent years the US has made the least progress of 39 countries studied in improving it innovation capacity and internal competitiveness.

However the report noted, that while the US had slipped, that decision makers, when asked, continue to rank the US first by a wide margin.  So public perception has not have caught up with reality.

A historic view of the US economy and innovation

The US was first primarily because it graduated more PhD’s and other highly trained scientists and engineers than any other country.  This almost assuredly will no longer be the case in the future.

The emerging nations have a 3 or more times population advantage over the US.  They are investing heavily in improving the quality of their universities and are graduating more and more locally trained scientists and engineers.  Soon they will graduate at least as many, if not more, PhDs and other highly educated scientists and engineers than the US will.

In addition to the progress by the emerging nations, the other more developed Asian and European countries are also investing heavily in both graduating and attracting top technical talent.   All are assisted by the US policy in areas such as stem cell research, which encourages the best and brightest of our technologists to go where government policy does not hinder innovation and discovery.

The US leadership in establishing new businesses based on technologies and innovation is also seeing pressure for several reasons, which will probably accelerate.

Our universities are the best in the world and in addition to graduating the finest US scientists and engineers; they attract and graduate many of the best foreign students as well. Historically many of these graduates joined their US counterparts in establishing new businesses and industries in the US.  Some VC’s say that over 70% of all start-ups in the Silicon Valley have at least one Asian as a founder.

The current, somewhat unfathomable, US immigration policy still allows top US universities to train foreign students but on graduation almost forces them to return to their native land where they now will start new businesses to compete with us.   Coupled with this unfortunate immigration policy, the booming economy in emerging nations lures these graduates to return to their native land because of the increased number of exciting and interesting opportunities that are now available there.

In summary, we will be out numbered, faced with new competitors and hindered by US government policies that makes innovation and growth harder to achieve.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education is necessary – but not sufficient

Recently major steps have been taken to improve the US’s competitive position through greater emphasis on the need for improved STEM education at all levels of our schools and universities.  The country and its people have become aware of, and support, this need to bolster STEM education.

Well-trained STEM graduates are an essential component of the nation’s ability to develop new products and businesses for the US economy of the future. STEM has become understood to be so important to the US economic future that there have been federal and other funds dedicated to this effort.   In fact, adding funds for STEM has actually become politically acceptable, even in this era of budget restraint.

Our success requires graduating very competent people whose training combines the best STEM based education with the best education designed to support creativity and innovation skills. Therefore, it is imperative that our education system focus on an overall curricula that includes, uses and develops, all the tools and skills that are available to support creativity and innovation.

The so-called “left” side of our brain is the logical side. It supports the of learning facts and deducing logical answers.  The “right” side deals with perceptual thinking and supports creative and instinctive thinking.  Both are needed – if one (typically the right side in today’s curricula) is not or is only slightly used it can atrophy just like an unused muscle will.  Dr. Alan Brinkley, the Nevins professor and former Provost of Columbia University headlined his recent article in Newsweek as follows:

“Half a Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

And sub titled it -   “The idea that we must choose between science and humanities is false”.

Dr. Brinkley supports excellence in technical education but points out the dual need

“Scientific and technology aspire to clean, clear answers to problems (as elusive as those answers might be).  The humanities address ambiguity, doubt and skepticism – essential underpinnings in a complex and diverse and turbulent world.”

Robert Root-Bernstein, a biochemist and MacArthur prizewinner did a study of 150 biographies of eminent scientists, from Pasteur to Einstein, in the early 1990’s.  It dealt with this relationship between the two sides of the brain.

He found that nearly all of the great inventors and scientists were also musicians, artists, writers or poets. Galileo, was a poet and literary critic; Einstein was a passionate student of the violin; Samuel Morse, was a portrait painter, etc.  He and his wife, Michele, co-authors of Sparks of Genius, conducted extensive research into the minds of inventive people and showed that creativity can be encouraged and enhanced through the exercise of thinking tools -  i.e., the right side of our brains.

The Nueroeducation Study done in 2009 led by John Hopkins and the Dana Foundation, also showed clearly that Arts education improves student cognition, memory and attention skills in the classroom as well as a range of life and academic skills.

A recent report on the non-profit Arts and Culture industry puts the annual economic activity it generates at more than $165 billion; it is responsible for some 5 million full time jobs, and generates $30 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments each year.  (The for-profits arts industry’s economic impact dwarfs this impact.)  But in return, those governments spend less than $4 billion funding and supporting Arts, including using funding for Arts as the basis for rebuilding local (often blighted) neighborhoods in Miami, Detroit, Baltimore and elsewhere.

In spite of these educational and economic studies, Arts have been systematically stripped from all levels of school systems in the name of budget constraints as non-essential to a necessary education.

Arts will not be reinstated as a needed component in the national curricula based on parents addressing PTA or school board meetings; or by Arts professionals asserting, correctly, that it will make students more rounded and will foster support for Arts institutions in the future when they grow up; or that Arts contribute at a 7:1 ratio to the economy versus governmental support.

None, or all, of these arguments, factual as they are, have been, nor will be, a sufficient basis to sell the need for Art as a component of a national imperative in today’s budget strained environment.

The country and the school funders (local, state and national) need to understand Arts are not just a “nicety” but rather are a national economic priority.  Therefore we need to adjust our national educational priorities to include putting Arts back into the curricula of all schools, colleges and universities as a required element of the education we provide to those who will soon be the leaders of our nation and the creators and implementers of its economic development.

Including Art with STEM to create a national priority for a STEAM based education system is a necessity for an economic future that will give future generations the same life style we enjoy today.

STEAM around the world

One could argue that if we maintain parity with the current developed and the emerging nations by virtue of an increased number of US highly trained STEM graduates, and that those other nations did no more than we do to include Arts in their schools, we could be all right – even if out numbered.

Even if that were true it would still be very important to have the creative and innovative advantage of a STEAM based educational system to help offset the numeric disadvantage.  But it is not true.

NFER (the National Foundation for Education Research) reported on a study of the educational systems of 19 countries titled The Arts, Creativity and Cultural EducationAn International Perspective in 2000.  It showed a significant emphasis on Arts in the required curricula in many of the countries studied.   Arts education is both a scholastic requirement and a valued and important part of the cultural way of life in many of the countries we do, and will, compete with.

For example, a recent report by CERNET (the China Education and Research Network) discusses the Chinese government’s requirement to include Art in its curricula and its support to extracurricular Arts activities in its nationwide school system.  The report starts with this sentence.

“Art education constitutes an important component of teaching in primary and secondary schools.”

The report covers the requirement for at leas 2 courses a week in music, both singing and appreciation coupled with arts and crafts and painting starting with the first grade and augmented by adding art appreciation to the middle and high school curricula.  National textbooks, and 70 sets of teaching materials that also include local teaching materials for their diverse population, support these required courses.  Extra curricula art activities play an important part in the majority of schools and include many interest groups and societies who present school art festivals.

A featured companion article to Dr. Brinkley’s in Newsweek entitled “The Creativity Crisis” includes a number of graphs and data comparing the US with counties like China, India, Germany, Japan and others.  The set of graphs below are very enlightening in that they show how significantly American and Chinese parents disagree about what skills their children will need to drive innovation.

It seems reasonable to believe this difference in what is needed for innovation, coupled with the CERNET data, drives the government’s education policy.  China is also heavily investing in STEM education and is said to be recruiting professors from around the world to help this effort.    The Chinese have STEAM.

The absence of Art in our education system is not the norm and we will continue to face competition from the emerging and developed nations who actively prepare their students to be creative and innovative in addition to an ever improving technical education.  If the economic future of the countries of the world is, as we believe, based on innovation then we must include Arts in our education in order to be competitive with China and others.

Connect the Dots

The understanding that creativity is a key element of innovation has been around for decades.  As Carl Sagan said –

“It is the tension between creativity and skepticism that has produced the stunning    unexpected findings of science.”

However the linking of innovation to our economic future has not been nearly as sharply a focus as it needs to be.

Historically the need for re-instating Arts into the national education system has been largely driven by organizations such as Americans for the Arts, NEA, and HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Collaborative) and academia based on the need for well-rounded students.  Now, even in those circles, the dialog is also starting to include the economic impact when discussing this need to integrate Arts and Science to provide the best, and necessary, overall education of our future generations.  A recent blog by Cathy Davidson, HASTAC co-founder included this comment –

“What we really need is STEAM – Science, Technology, ARTS, and Math.  We need to inspire    kids with the scientific method, which happens not to be scientific exclusively but, basically, learning where any form of discovery is rewarded and encouraged.”

A number of professors like Dr. Brinkley write on the subject.  Senior business executive turned academician John Eger, the Van Deerlin Chair of Communications and Public Policy at San Diego State University, writes extensively on the role of Arts and creativity and how it can lead to an innovative community.  A recent commentary titled “Going from STEM to STEAM – The Arts Have a Role in America’s Future, Too” by Associate Professor Joseph Piro at C. W. Post included this statement – If creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking – all touted as the hallmark skills for 21st century success – are to be cultivated, we need to ensure that STEM subjects are drawn closer to the arts.

Also there is now some positive dialog and action starting to occur by senior governmental leaders and the business media in recognizing this need to include Arts as a key to economic growth.

For example Massachusetts, citing the need to boost the commonwealth’s financial health via the creative economy, has just passed legislation requiring public schools to be ranked on how students perform on standardized tests and also on how well the school’s curricula is designed to foster creativity in students.  Governor Patrick called for the formation of a creativity index for ranking the public schools statewide.

A special report in Business Week in 2007 observed:

“The game is changing. It isn’t just about math and science anymore. It’s about creativity,            imagination, and, above all, innovation.”

On April 9, 2010 at the Arts Education Partnership National Forum, Education Secretary Duncan said,

“The arts can no longer be treated as a frill,” … arts education is essential to stimulating the     creativity and innovation that will prove critical to young Americans competing in a global         economy….”

At the same event Chairman Landesman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) said,

“The arts provide us with new ways of thinking, new ways to draw connections…and they      help maintain our competitive edge by engendering innovation and creativity.”

US businesses need more innovative employees so their companies can compete and together these businesses can provide the innovation required for our future economy.  “Ready to Innovate”, a recent Conference Board report supported this need based on surveys of executives and school superintendents who agreed in the need for more innovative employees at all levels of the workforce and that education in Arts was a leading and reliable indicator of the creativity and innovation in applicants.

I, and my wife are ardent supporters of arts and education.  I spent my career working for technology and consumer goods companies. I had my own companies and I co-founded two successful multi-billion dollar public companies.  I know that we always sought, needed and nurtured innovative and creative employees.  And today, there is clearly an increasing need for such employees as new economies develop and the technological pace accelerates.

I have personally seen innovation be the difference maker in great technology companies as well as in marketing based concerns.  Innovation is not solely dependent on superior technology to be the differentiating factor – it is a universally needed skill and an essential one for our economic future.

So, why hasn’t Arts education been re-installed into our schools and universities nation-wide?

It increases current costs and budgets are tight and the national debt is rising.

In times like these it is hard to get governments and the public to spend money today even if there is compelling evidence that it will save many times the cost in the future.  This skepticism is easily understood given the failure of many politically promised future cost savings that turn out to be either not real, or the “savings” being splurged on unrelated, or not well conceived, programs.

The success of recognizing and promoting the need for STEM education demonstrates that if there is a clear connection between a program and the future of our economy then people will support (or demand) that it be undertaken even if there is additional funding required.

What is the solution?

With a strongly supported STEM program underway Art only needs to be added to form STEAM and this is, I believe, the most rational and probable road to a success in re-installing Arts as a necessary and important element of a great education system in a reasonable time frame.

Why is the adding of Arts to STEM the most rational and probable road to success?

The support for STEM shows if there is a connection between an educational need and the future US economy, there is willingness and freedom to consider funding such programs. Creating STEAM by including Arts with a STEM curriculum is such a program because it is critical to the overall educational preparation of our future leaders and will greatly help assure our future economy by providing the best possible education for innovation.  It clearly makes sense to do both Arts and STEM – i.e., STEAM.

This STEAM approach is also a cost effective way to create this innovation based education system we must have and should not require a significant funding change.  For example, a number of Arts programs, particularly visual arts, including graphic related design, courses can be added to curricula by applications that use existing computer and mobile resources which are available to most students, and in place in the majority of the schools and universities.  The job demand for graphic design graduates is very high.

It does not require building more labs or expensive technical facilities. Space in existing facilities can house many Arts programs though there will be the need for some funds for more instruments and support items.   STEAM will require more staff and as such will create job growth largely by returning laid-off teachers to the classroom from the unemployment centers, which appears to be generally supported by people.

To support this modification of STEM to STEAM, businesses and their leaders, arts professionals, educators and others working together can educate governments, the public and the media to the need for adding Arts to the national curricula and why this will help the STEM educated leaders be better innovators.  Together they can, by connecting the dots, demonstrate to the public, media and governments why Arts is a necessary adjunct to STEM.   The dots are:

• Arts education is a key to creativity, and

• Creativity is an essential component of, and spurs innovation, and

• Innovation is, agreed to be necessary to create new industries in the future, and

• New industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic wellbeing.

A win-win situation – low cost – job growth and insuring the future

If we do not connect these dots Arts education will continue to be virtually extinct in our schools – and the US’s economic future will be damaged.

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WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH 2014

fCan early computer science education boost number of women in tech?

Stanford students Sophia Westwood, center, a senior computer science major, and Wendy Shi, right, a junior computer science major, chat with Stanford
Stanford students Sophia Westwood, center, a senior computer science major, and Wendy Shi, right, a junior computer science major, chat with Stanford computer networking professor Phil Levis, far left, at the Gates Computer Science Building at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Westwood started a series of dinners called “Casual Dinner for Women Studying Computer Science” that brings female computer science students together with role models to help build community and to network.
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When Sophia Westwood decided to take computer science as a freshman at Stanford, she knew she was running with a high-octane crowd: elite program, startup factory, genius classmates who had been coding since birth.

Then again, why not? Westwood had been dabbling with programming since she was a kid, and she rocked the Advanced Placement test in high school. So she went for it — and almost immediately confronted the reality that every woman in the field faces.

“Oh, you must be Sophia,” her instructor for an introductory computer science class said.

It wasn’t Westwood’s reputation that preceded her. It was her gender. Westwood was the only woman among the eight or so students in the discussion section, and it wouldn’t be the last time she would be severely outnumbered.

Even as women have made big strides in once-male-dominated professions such as law and medicine, they’ve been left far behind when it comes to computer science, a lucrative discipline that is the primary driver of the 21st century economy.

At Stanford, only 23.5 percent of computer science degrees last year were awarded to women. At UC Berkeley, the number was 16.2 percent. The schools broadly mirror the national picture. But that’s only part of the story.

The fact is, the numbers have been getting worse. In 1984, more than 37 percent of computer science bachelor’s degrees in the United States were awarded to women. By 1995, the figure had dropped to about 28.5 percent. The latest U.S. Department of Education figures from 2011 put the number at 17.6 percent.

All of which helps explain why women hold less than one quarter of computing jobs in the country, according to an analysis by the Anita Borg Institute, a Palo Alto nonprofit working to boost women’s participation in the tech economy.

Both Stanford and Cal, whose computer science graduates are the human seeds of Silicon Valley’s startups, are working on the problem. Stanford has raised its percentage of women receiving CS degrees from 16 percent in 2005. Cal, which recently launched a number of initiatives, has yet to see results when it comes to graduation statistics.

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Nowhere is the lack of women in computer science a bigger issue than in Silicon Valley, where programming skills and computing know-how fuel the world-changing startups and global behemoths that shape our everyday lives. It’s what builds companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. It’s the discipline that launches IPOs. It is, in essence, the life blood of the innovation engine.

In this series, “Women and Computing: The Promise Denied,” I’ll look at the reasons so few women study computer science and talk about how that harms the economy and, of course, the women themselves. Finally, I’ll talk to some of those who are working to turn around the numbers about the ways they think they can change the world.

It’s true that other demographic groups, blacks and Latinos for example, are also woefully underrepresented in computer science. But I chose to look at women because women, representing more than half the population, make up the richest vein of potential talent to solve one of the U.S. economy’s most pressing problems: the growing shortage of skilled computer programmers.

“If we want to hire the best software engineers in the world,” says Jocelyn Goldfein, a Facebook engineering director, “how can we be confident that we’re doing that when we’re drawing practitioners from only about half the available talent pool?”

The truth is that in a time when women are being told to lean in, they have been left out of some of the hottest jobs in the country — jobs such as software engineers, system analysts, computer research scientists, database administrators. Jobs that come with median salaries that start for women at $60,000 nationally, according to the Borg Institute, and top out at twice that in Silicon Valley, according to career site Glassdoor.

The shrinking proportion of women in computer science is at first glance bewildering. Women have been gaining for years in many math and science fields, and they are receiving more than half the degrees in some of those areas. All of which makes their absence in computer science more frustrating, infuriating even, because it doesn’t have to be so.

Stanford students Kelley Luyken, left, a junior management science and engineering major, chats with Lily Sierra, far right, a junior symbolic systemsStanford students Kelley Luyken, left, a junior management science and engineering major, chats with Lily Sierra, far right, a junior symbolic systems major, at the Gates Computer Science Building at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Stanford senior Sophia Westwood, a computer science major, started a series of dinners called “Casual Dinner for Women Studying Computer Science” that brings female computer science students together with role models to help build community and to network.

Stanford students Kelley Luyken, left, a junior management science and engineering major, chats with Lily Sierra, far right, a junior symbolic systems major, at the Gates Computer Science Building at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Stanford senior Sophia Westwood, a computer science major, started a series of dinners called “Casual Dinner for Women Studying Computer Science” that brings female computer science students together with role models to help build community and to network.

Those who have studied the issue are reluctant to identify one culprit in what is a tangle of political, social, educational and personal considerations.

“Who is to blame for all of this?” asks UCLA senior researcher Jane Margolis, the co-author of a well-regarded study, “Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing,” that dives into the obstacles women confront in the field. “I don’t know if there is a who. There is a whole set, a convergence of different factors, but I do think there is a question of political will. I think that if people did want to do something about it they could.”

Yes, it’s complicated. But after talking to dozens of researchers, academics, technologists, educators and students, it is evident that the nation’s education system, from kindergarten through college, simply has not lived up to the task of sufficiently encouraging women to pursue courses and careers in computer science.

“Absolutely,” says Margolis. “The education system — and it’s not just women and girls; it’s also students of color and students from low-resourced communities — they have let them all down.”

The role schools could play in closing the gender gap becomes even clearer when you consider the reasons social scientists say boys gravitate to computers at an early age and girls don’t.

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There’s simple socialization: the same sort of spoken and unspoken cues from parents, teachers, media and peers that result in boys playing with trucks and Legos and girls playing with dolls and My Little Pony.

There’s the image problem: Girls see computer scientists as socially awkward male nerds who spend their days alone tapping out code — people, in other words, who are not them.

There’s the lack of female role models to shatter the image: Media reports and pop culture are filled with boy wonders like Mark Zuckerberg, the Google guys and the game-making “brogrammers,” who start companies and change the world.

“Men can look at Mark Zuckerberg or basically every founder in Silicon Valley and say, ‘He’s cool. He did something with computer science,’” says Ellora Israni, 21, a Stanford computer science major who cofounded she++, a group working to encourage girls and young women to pursue computing. “And you ask women, ‘Who are your role models?’ And their role models are never programmers.”

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And no wonder. Consider the San Francisco startup incubator that advertised a “Hackers and Hookers” Halloween party, or the mainstream tech conference that featured two guys describing a fantasy app that creates selfies of men staring at women’s breasts.

“There is still a lot of hostility toward women in some parts of the industry,” says Ellen Spertus, a computer science professor at Mills College in Oakland and a senior research scientist at Google. “There is subtle bias and there also is some quite open bias.”

Add to all that a self-fulfilling prophecy: The small number of women studying computer science in college can make those women feel alone, vulnerable and unwelcome. For decades, computer science in grade school and high school, when there has been any computer science instruction at all, has amounted to an exercise in self-selection. Boys join extracurricular computing clubs and sign up for CS classes with the encouragement of parents and teachers, while girls are left to shy away from a field they don’t fully understand. In the end, without the encouragement and exposure to computing that boys often get, girls start behind when it comes to computing and often don’t get what they need to catch up late in the game.

Women-in-Tech

What would encouragement and exposure look like? Harvey Mudd College, a small liberal arts school in Claremont, provides a powerful Petri dish. By 2006, administrators were determined to close the gender gap, which had been frustrating them for years. But to do so, they had to change computer science’s appeal.

“The difference is, females in general are much more interested in what you can do with the technology, than with just the technology itself,” says Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe, a computer scientist herself.

So administrators created an introductory course specifically for students without programming experience. They emphasized coding’s connection to other disciplines. They paid for freshman women to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a chance to meet programming role models in diverse fields. And they provided early research opportunities for women students to inspire them to stick with the field.

The result? The percentage of female computer science majors at Harvey Mudd increased from about 10 percent before the initiatives to 43 percent today.

Stanford started adopting some strategies similar to Harvey Mudd’s in 2008. Berkeley, however, is just now beginning to make some changes, which might explain the differences in the percentages of female computer scientists they are graduating. Until about three years ago, Berkeley did what most colleges did to encourage women in computer science: almost nothing.

“The concern is real,” says David Culler, chair of UC Berkeley’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department. “The numbers historically have been low, and for quite some time. At the same time, I think we may also be finally moving the needle. I could imagine that we actually do see a sea change in the next few years.”

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Imagine the possibilities if girls encountered a Harvey Mudd-like effort well before college. It’s the early years, after all, that hold the most promise — the years before girls’ career aspirations and expectations are fully formed and before the experience gap between boys and girls grows to the point that girls feel they don’t belong.

Stanford student Westwood, 22, knows the importance of encouragement — the earlier the better — as well as anyone. Along with the obstacles, she heard encouraging words, from her parents — an engineer and a doctor — and teachers and classmates at Stanford. She found her own support system and is working to build one for other women. And, after pursuing it in college, she fell in love with computer science.

“This is such an exciting field and you want people to be able to make the decision on whether to pursue it or not based on affinity, not based on gender,” says Westwood, now a graduate student, who has launched a series of campus dinners for women in computer science. “It’s really not fair and not right that there are so many people feeling not welcome in a field that they would do well in.”

A master’s degree in the subject is her focus now. And next summer she will take her programming skills to Quip, a startup formed by Google and Facebook alums who are working on document collaboration products for the mobile computing era. She was thrilled to sign up as employee No. 14, the company’s first recruit right out of school. Oh, and she represented another milestone: The company’s first female engineering hire.

“I’m really excited,” Westwood says. “The caliber of the people there is off the charts.”

Listening to her talk is not only a reminder of the opportunity that has been lost by leaving so many women behind, but also a measure of the potential that is still out there to be tapped.

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