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Tech Industry

International Women's Day spurs initiatives from tech companies, groups

Programs aim to support women and girls in STEM.

Women in tech
Getty Images

Friday marks International Women's Day, a day celebrating gender equality and women's achievements. One industry where that would be welcome: technology.

Women make up just 30 percent of the workforce in Silicon Valley, according to the Kapor Center, a nonprofit that supports women and people of color in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. As a result of the lack of representation or perhaps because of it, women contend with major biases

Girls also face obstacles in pursuing STEM education. More than a quarter of middle school girls and a fifth of high school girls say they're too embarrassed to ask questions in class, according to a study by Microsoft and KRC Research. In addition, 32 percent of middle school and 35 percent of high school girls say they don't feel supported by their teachers and classmates.

Organizations and companies across the country are working to change that. And on International Women's Day, some are launching initiatives to further that goal:

Walmart and Girls Who Code

Walmart said it's giving $3 million to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women in computer science and close the gender gap in tech. The donation will go toward expanding Girls Who Code clubs throughout the country, adding to the 6,000 clubs already in place. 

The retail giant will also be a founding sponsor of College Loops, a program that Girls Who Code created to stay connected with college-aged program alumni to help keep them in computer science. 

Hack and Techbridge Girls 

Hack, a computer that encourages kids to code through gaming, teamed up with nonprofit Techbridge Girls for a STEM education event Thursday, ahead of International Women's Day. The event included beta testing of new coding games and mentoring with Hack staff. Techbridge Girls offers STEM programming to girls in low-income communities. 

Google and Inspiring Girls

Inspiring Girls, a charity that creates videos to motivate young women and challenge gender biases, launched a series of videos with a dozen female Google employees encouraging girls to pursue careers in tech. The women speak about their careers and what inspires them, and share suggestions on how to work in tech. 

Inspiring Girls will launch a Video Hub later this year featuring interviews with female role models, which are designed to inspire girls to achieve their goals. 

Microsoft and Nobel Media

Microsoft partnered with Nobel Media to launch an AI-powered web platform called Women Who Changed Science, which highlights the accomplishments of female Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry and medicine.

The multimedia platform uses images and videos to present biographies of women such as Marie Curie, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Tu Youyou.

Tinder

Tinder is swiping right in its support for International Women's Day. The dating site is offering up to $1 million a year in free, in-app advertising for nonprofits. She's the First, an organization tackling gender inequality via education, is one of the first groups to participate. 

Tinder also said it's working to ensure 65 percent of internship positions at the company this year go to females.

Google VR series

Google launched a virtual reality series called Courage to Question, which looks at four women fighting for justice and equality. The films were captured by a female crew in VR180 and will premiere at the United Nations' International Women's Day opening ceremony on Friday.

Facebook

The social network invited a group of women to meet Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday, in addition to other top female leaders at the company. 

Originally published March 8, 7 a.m. PT.
Updates, 10:49 a.m. and 2:35 p.m.: Adds information on more initiatives.