Feature Story

Building a STEM Bridge for Girls

Dissecting computers, building motors from scratch and creating racing wheels for speed. These are the hands-on experiences Cisco hopes to encourage as it supports the US2020 initiative, a nationwide effort to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education through skill-based mentorship.

At a special launch event for US2020, this fall Cisco invited 60 middle school girls from San Jose, California to visit Cisco's Silicon Valley campus. Working with TechBridge, an afterschool program designed to empower girls to realize their dreams though science, technology and engineering, 88 Cisco volunteers worked side by side with students building, creating and sharing their enthusiasm for technology. Smiles and laughter filled the room as projects rolled off the tables and mentors shared helpful tricks and tips for solving some of math's most challenging equations.

Exposing students to STEM related activities isn't just about having fun, it's about preparing for the future. Currently, there are 26 Million STEM jobs in the US. More specifically for girls, women make up almost half of the American workforce, yet women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs.  (Data according to: Brookings Institute as referenced in STEMConnector)

The US2020 initiative calls on CEOs of American companies to commit, by the year 2020, 20% of their workforce to volunteer at least 20 hours per year working with students in STEM-related disciplines.

"By 2015, it is expected that roughly 90% of jobs across all sectors will require technology skills.  Cisco will encourage employees to spend more time mentoring youth and engaging them in hands-on learning experiences, which are vital to fostering a passion for the STEM fields," said Cisco CEO, John Chambers.

For more about Cisco's Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, visit: csr.cisco.com .

Related link: Cisco Invites Girls To See Their Tech Futures At US2020 Event