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Icon for: Linda Christopher

LINDA CHRISTOPHER

UC Irvine, OC STEM, Jamboree Housing

Women Advancing Through Technology

NSF Awards: 1649377

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate

The Women Advancing Through Technology (WATT) program is under the direction of Principal Investigator, Dr. Linda Christopher and Co Principal Investigator, Dr. Christine Olmstead, and Computer Science Expert Shannon Alfaro. The program is geared for women ages 16 to 34, who are members of underrepresented racial minorities and ethnic groups, with low socioeconomic status.  The WATT “boot camp” will teach the fundamentals of Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, SQL, JavaScript, and AngularJS, and educate women from the targeted populations who desire to engage in upward occupational mobility and a career in web development. The program is designed in such a way that they will be able to keep their current jobs and have outside support through free child care and transportation funds. WATT is designed to meet the current and future demand for mid-level computer science technicians, particularly in web design and mobile applications. The end goals are jobs in the computer tech sector with a future pathway to higher education.

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Original Discussion from the 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: William McHenry

    William McHenry

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 09:29 a.m.

    The WATT program is an innovative strategy to help address a major challenge in STEM. It is per the video, providing women who are in a low socioeconomic status with a “booth camp” to motivate these women to advance in a technology career. The video is first class.

  • Icon for: Linda Christopher

    Linda Christopher

    Lead Presenter
    Dean's Appointment - NSF PI
    May 17, 2017 | 12:52 p.m.

    Thank you for your kind words regarding our video William. We are hoping that this small. organic project will scale for as many women as possible across California and beyond. 

    Your vote of support is highly motivating for all of us with WATT! (UC Irvine)

  • Icon for: Jake Foster

    Jake Foster

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 06:05 a.m.

    This program is working with a critical population to develop programming skills, a valuable skill for today's workforce. The potential of reaching 70,000 women over time demonstrates the need for such efforts. It would be great to hear how participants do after the training, particularly in figuring out how they apply their programming skills in a variety of workforce contexts. How will the success and lessons learned in this model be studied?

  • Icon for: Linda Christopher

    Linda Christopher

    Lead Presenter
    Dean's Appointment - NSF PI
    May 17, 2017 | 12:52 p.m.

    Hello Jake,

    Thank you so much for viewing our video - we are starting the recruiting process in July and fully executing the experiment starting Aug - through November.

    I will keep in touch with you regarding our progress - thank you for your vote of confidence!

    Sincerely,

    Linda Christopher - PI

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Senior Advisor
    May 16, 2017 | 07:46 p.m.

    This is an excellent program and I would like to learn more about what you are discovering in your research.  Are there differences by age, by current job status, by type of current employment?  What are the most significant barriers that women face during the program?  What aspects of programming are most challenging?  Do you assist them in job search?  Are you seeing a positive impact on the children when moms are enrolled and become role models as learners?  I look forward to hearing about the progress and what you are learning.  

  • Icon for: Linda Christopher

    Linda Christopher

    Lead Presenter
    Dean's Appointment - NSF PI
    May 17, 2017 | 12:51 p.m.

    Hello Vivian,

    Thank you for viewing our video - we are fully executing our experiment beginning in July - however I can give you some details on our micro - pilot that we ran in January of 2016.  From the 20 women in our micro pilot - 2 went on to higher education, seven went on to take entrepreneurship classes sponsored by Jamboree Housing, and one woman opened her own beauty salon using the computer skills to design the salon and business plan.  We were not able to track the others.

    We did offer on site childcare which was one of the biggest obstacles. Levels of English speaking is another obstacle - but we were able to work with volunteers and family members to secure translators. Our NSF project will work with up to 150 women and we will help them with job searches and pathways to high education - I will keep in touch with you on this!

    Sincerely,

    Linda Christopher - PI 

  • Icon for: Heidi Schweingruber

    Heidi Schweingruber

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 08:52 p.m.

    Great program designed to reach a group of women who may never have considered jobs in computer science related fields. How do you help women connect the skills they are learning with potential career paths? I'm also curious about how you built the partnership with the community organization. How might other communities build similar programs? What do you think are the most important ingredients in your success?

  • Icon for: Linda Christopher

    Linda Christopher

    Lead Presenter
    Dean's Appointment - NSF PI
    May 17, 2017 | 12:51 p.m.

    Hello Heidi,

    Thank you for your words of support - we are going to help the women connect to potential career paths by having them complete job shadows and mini internships via a partner named OCTANE which is a tech alliance and incubator.

    We will also be having visits from community college/university recruiters to expose them to higher ed paths as well.

    Working with Jamboree Housing has been a wonderful experience - we connected with them through an after school alliance.  I would encourage everyone to reach out to the affordable housing communities as they are truly in touch with the population we serve and they also have certain responsibilities with the state and other their other funding institutions to serve their tenants with educational opportunities.  It is a perfect collaboration.

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