Seven STEM competitions for girls

In 2013, President Obama stated that “we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.” The Office of Science and Technology Policy, in collaboration with the White House Council on Women and Girls, touts a commitment to closing the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) industries. In addition to government reports and policies, there are several public and private organizations equally committed to this goal. Through female-only competitions and contests, these organizations provide hands-on extracurricular experiences to girls of all ages. The following are seven interactive tech competitions in STEM.

  1. ProjectCSGIRLS Competition

    ProjectCSGIRLS is a nonprofit organization that encourages girls to embrace technology and computer science. Additionally, they make resources readily available to youth interested in pursuing careers in STEM. ProjectCSGirls provides girls with the opportunity to compete in computer science and technology challenges that require students to devise solutions to social problems. U.S females in grades 6-8 can request a mentor and enter the competition.

  2. EngineerGirl’s Egirl Essay Contest

    EngineerGirl, a website created by the National Academy of Engineering, hosts an annual essay contest for girls interested in STEM industries. Topics for the essay contest center on the impact of engineering on the world. Students can enter essays throughout the fall, and winners are posted in the spring. Their website provides resources for girls to understand what a career as an engineer is really like. Additionally, the website links to various other co-ed and girls-only engineering resources and opportunities. Scholarships for women in STEM are advertised via the website.

  3. GirlsInTechnology (GIT) Scholarships

    GirlsInTechnology (GIT) is led by the larger organization, Women in Technology. They are committed to inspiring girls in grades 6-12 to pursue careers in STEM. As part of their program, scholarships are offered to girls who demonstrate a positive experience with GIT, a dream to work in a STEM job, and an understanding of GIT’s 7 core beliefs. Depending on their age group, girls may be asked to enter a video or an essay as their submission to the contest.

  4. Black Girls CODE Hackathon

    Black Girls CODE is an organization that seeks to promote the interest of girls of color in STEM fields. Every summer, they host an all-girls hackathon in New York. By participating, girls develop a host of skills from ideation and team-work to app development and presentation-making. This is an opportunity for young women ages 12-17 to apply their knowledge to practical situations where coding can serve as a change-agent for social justice and be used as a tool to solve real world challenges.

  5. National Center for Women and IT Award for Aspirations in Computing

    NCWIT provides girls with the opportunity to apply for honors and awards that recognize their achievements in computer-related activities. Applicants must be high-school students and are selected based on their “computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.” Titled the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, this award provides recipients with opportunities for “scholarships, internships, research experiences, and other educational and employment opportunities provided by NCWIT member organizations” in addition to recognition. Girls across the country can also apply to a collegiate level of this award.

  6. Technovation Competition

    Technovation aims to “inspire and educate girls and women to solve real-world problems through technology.” Each year, students can enter a tech competition in which they develop mobile app “startups” that solve real problems in their communities. Teams can have up to 5 members and are mentored by passionate women who believe in Technovation’s mission (teachers, parents, community members, technology or business professionals, etc.). $20,000 in awards is distributed to competition winners.

  7. Marvel Movie Contests

    Most uniquely, Marvel has competitions for women in technology as part of past movie campaigns. For this summer’s Ant Man movie, girls were invited to take the “Micro-Tech Challenge.” The challenge asks girls in grades 9-12 to use inexpensive or found materials to create utilitarian, artistic, or fun DIY projects. Selected winners led workshops teaching other young women how to create their project and attended the Ant Man red carpet premiere. Similarly, in 2013, for the movie Thor: The Dark World, Marvel launched the “Ultimate Mentor Adventure” to empower girls in the same age group to explore the world of STEM. The challenge asks girls to submit videos about experiences asking “successful women in STEM fields what they do, how they got where they are…and how others can follow in their footsteps.” Winners were selected to participate in a week-long series of interactive events, venture behind the scenes of the movie, and more. We can expect further challenges from Marvel in the future based on their past success.

Laura Sorice contributed to this post.