After decades of very little diversity in science and tech, organizations are finally trying hard to bring minorities into their ranks. Silicon Valley companies have recently made news for trying to recruit more women and people of color (and most still have an ongoing problem—look at Uber), but state and local organizations are also doing their part.
One example of this is WebPT, a physical therapy software company based in Phoenix. The company announced on June 14 that it is partnering with the Arizona Science Center, Girls in Tech and the Peoria School District to work on initiatives that will attract and retain more diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.
Dr. Heidi Jannenga, President and co-founder of WebPT, said in a press release, “If Arizona is to become a true competitor in the global economy, we need to not only attract tech companies to the Valley and develop home-grown leaders, but also hone in on educating future generations of technologists to lead the way.”
WebPT is a sponsor of the Arizona Science Center’s Girls in STEM program. This program works with girls in grades four through eight and gets them involved in science and engineering extracurricular activities. It also pairs girls with female mentors in their STEM fields of interest.
Also in an effort to empower girls and women in STEM fields, WebPT is sponsoring the Phoenix chapter of Girls in Tech. The chapter recently held their kickoff event, where they screened “She Started It,” a movie about five women who navigate the world of tech startups.
WebPT is even partnering with the Peoria School District to create a STEM certificate program for all types of students. This program allows students to intern at local software companies, where they can learn firsthand what the industry is like. WebPT itself will host several interns this fall.
“By supporting the efforts of these forward-thinking organizations . . . we hope to help bring greater diversity to STEM and show our future leaders that STEM is all-encompassing,” Jannenga said. “It’s not just about coding, and there are exciting and lucrative opportunities right here in Arizona.”
There are many opportunities for tech companies to promote diversity at the local level, especially by increasing access to education and empowering minorities as these initiatives do. Maybe Silicon Valley could take a hint from Phoenix.