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Documentary, panel discussion about women and minorities in STEM and computing set for Feb. 7

February 1, 2017

An image of the "CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap" logo with portraits of the four panelists beneath
Lauren States (far left) will moderate an insightful conversation with panelists (from left to right) Jessica Self, Racheida Lewis, and Ashima Athri following the public screening of "CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap."

While the movie "Hidden Figures" sheds light on the historic contributions made by African-American women in the U.S. space program, the fact is that today’s gender and racial inequities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce remain quite pronounced.

In fact, while the overall participation of women in STEM fields is slowly rising, the percentage of women in computing fields is actually trending downward.

American Association of University Women, 2015

A graph demonstrating the statistics on women in technology are actually getting worse
Source: American Association of University Women, 2015

In an effort to raise awareness of this substantial diversity gap and encourage more women and minority students to build their careers in science and technology fields, Virginia Tech is hosting a public screening of “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” on Feb. 7. CODE is an insightful documentary that explores the history of women and minorities in the field of computer science and discusses the benefits, challenges, and struggles of underrepresented groups in the STEM fields.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion and reception at Goodwin Hall 190 on the Virginia Tech campus.

Noted computer engineer, Harvard fellow, and diversity advocate Lauren States will lead a panel discussion featuring three Virginia Tech alumnae who are beginning their careers in engineering and computer science fields: Jessica Self, Racheida Lewis, and Ashima Athri. The panelists will share their experiences and perspectives and take questions from the audience.

“With the growing use and importance of technology and the need for advanced skills and knowledge to meet current and future challenges, it is important that we have full participation in our workforce,” said Virginia Tech CIO Scott Midkiff. “Solving the gender gap is not only about what is right, it is also about workforce needs and gaining the diverse perspectives needed to solve hard problems.”

The event is hosted by the Division of Information Technology and sponsored by the Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science.

Students and faculty at Virginia Tech, local tech professionals, and students from nearby high schools, colleges, and universities are invited to attend.

Visit the event website for panelist and moderator bios, and complete information on the event.

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