Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ remarks at Microsoft DigiGirlz Day, part of the LA Fund for Public Education’s Girls Build LA initiative, with students from Grace Hopper STEM Academy in Inglewood and Orville Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet in Westchester:
“Welcome, everyone, to Microsoft DigiGirlz Day! Please join me in thanking Microsoft for hosting us in this wonderful space, and let’s give a big shout-out to the LA Fund for Public Education for inviting us all to be here.
“The LA Fund has done amazing things for students, providing internship opportunities, nutritional meals, wellness education and funding for arts programs. It has also launched an exciting initiative, Girls Build LA, which challenges middle and high school girls to better their communities.
“Girls Build LA is an opportunity for students just like you to identify a challenge in their communities and engineer a plan to solve it. Notice those words: Build… Engineer… Solve. I use these words deliberately because this is the vocabulary of the architect, the mathematician, the inventor.
“Nationally, women remain greatly underrepresented in the career fields of construction, manufacturing, computer science, business, engineering, and medicine. These fields represent jobs that are interesting and allow you to make a difference. They also pay very well. This matters because right here in Los Angeles, women earn only 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. And 30 percent of all girls under the age of 18 live in poverty.
“All of you get to rewrite this sad story because you attend schools that offer STEM and STEAM curricula. Your schools have hosted science-focused events such as Robotics Coding Workshops and Young Engineers’ Day.
“When we make science and math enjoyable and meaningful, we increase the likelihood that girls will continue to study these subjects in college. That’s why last October, I hosted the County’s first-ever Hackathon at the Lennox Library. South LA Hack Day featured workshops from Microsoft and other tech giants such as IDEO, CGI and NeoGov. Students got to create their own apps and share their ideas with one another. They felt inspired by what they’d learned and what they’d created.
“We’re hoping that you will feel the same way today after learning about careers in technology and participating in this afternoon’s coding session. I look forward to seeing how your ideas and your creativity will contribute to bettering the communities and the world we live in. Thank you very much.”