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October 4, 2022

Flipping the Script in Technology with Girls Who Code

According to data collected by Girls Who Code, 37% of computer scientists were women in 1995, but that percentage is only 24% nearly 30 years later. This decline of an already low percentage is the driving force behind the female-focused international nonprofit, which was founded in 2012.

Through programs, online resources, campaigns, books, and advocacy work in the U.S. and around the world, Girls Who Code is on track to close the gender gap in entry-level technology jobs by 2030.

Ansys is working with Girls Who Code to reach this goal by sponsoring the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program (SIP) to encourage girls and nonbinary individuals to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and learn how to code.

Girls Who Code welcome

A virtual meeting during the Ansys-sponsored Summer Immersion Program

Supporting the Summer Immersion Program

Ansys began its support of the organization in 2020 during the pandemic by donating funds to sponsor the Girls Who Code at Home program. This led to Ansys’ annual sponsorship of the SIP, which took place this year from August 1-12. The SIP is a free, virtual, two-week program for students in grades 9-12 who identify as girls or nonbinary. One of the most inviting aspects of the program is that prior computer science experience is not required and all levels are welcome to apply. This summer, 60 students participated with Ansys.

Ansys hosted several sessions aimed at increasing female representation in STEM fields, including some in which Ansys representatives shared personal accounts of pursuing education and careers in technology. Additionally, instructors led technical sessions to introduce students to the wide range of benefits, from how simulation helps design household items to out-of-this-world technology.

“The Girls Who Code SIP gave me the opportunity to contribute to a cause that is very close to my heart: exposing 60 teenage girls to coding and the prospect of shaping the world through technology,” says Kelly Damalou, a lead product manager at Ansys. “Even though technology is considered to be a field for men to compete in, it has nothing to do with gender, it is all about our passion to break barriers and make a difference.” 

Girls Who Code session one and two

Girls Who Code session one and two meeting topics

Some 2022 Ansys-sponsored Girls Who Code SIP sessions included:

  • Take a Leap of Certainty: This session gave an introduction to Ansys and some Women in Technology members from our employee resource group who shared experiences of how they pursued careers in STEM fields.
  • Designing the World Around Us: This session explored how Ansys simulation aids design by helping innovators understand and improve model components and material.
  • Coding and Aligning the James Webb Space Telescope: Here the group learned about the science, spacecraft, and telescope technology required to make NASA’s recent telescope launch a success, including how Ansys Zemax OpticStudio was used to develop the code that aligned primary mirror segments to behave as a single mirror.
  • Celebrating Girls Who Code and Empowering Future Success: At this meeting, students spoke with young female professionals at Ansys from a wide variety of backgrounds, including research and development, applications engineering, and marketing. The panel answered questions about their education and career paths to STEM fields while offering practical tips and advice.

In addition to the sessions, Ansys supported interactive games and activities, including a personality quiz show and scavenger hunt.

“I loved the partner activity,” says an SIP student. “Learning about the different kinds of material is completely new to me, but the sponsor volunteer was extremely helpful and made it super fun. I loved the activity and the overall presentation style was really amazing.”

Camille Williams

Ansys application engineer Camille Williams participated in the Take a Leap of Certainty session this summer by sharing her personal experience with students and “superpowers” that kept her motivated in her journey to becoming an engineer.

The positive feedback is rewarding for Ansys employees who are passionate about bridging the gender gap in STEM.

“It is truly exciting to see the impact the GWS SIP program has had,” says Ellie Monaco, a senior manager of talent management at Ansys. “Lightbulbs were going off all around as 60 teenagers got to see from our team of smart engineers and designers just how much fun it can be to design simulation solutions for real-world applications. Having female role models doing the work goes such a long way in debunking any myths about what it means to succeed in STEM fields.”

Impacting the Code for Years to Come

Research shows that the biggest drop-off of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17. For this reason, Ansys is committed to the partnership and believes Girls Who Code programs are critical for keeping girls engaged in STEM subjects during a pivotal period in their academic journey.

“Technology surrounds us every day, and the next generation of engineers will need to be as diverse as ever to solve the challenges we as a society face,” says Kaitlin Tyler, an education development manager at Ansys. “Being able to support the efforts of an organization like Girls Who Code, who do amazing work breaking down barriers and making tech careers more accessible to minority groups, as a part of Ansys is really an honor and a privilege.”

To prepare students with simulation skills and support STEM teaching, Ansys offers software and education resources through the Ansys Academic Program.

Learn more about Girls Who Code and the SIP.

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