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Making STEM your daughter's BFF

A group aiming to get more math and science teachers into schools attracts some big-name backers. The long-term goal: get more women and minorities into the tech industry.

100Kin10 is committed to recruiting, training and retaining 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021.
Hero Images/Corbis

A leading education group has attracted some big names to help it in its mission to get more youngsters involved in tech.

Nearly 50 organizations -- including Girls Who Code, Harvard and the Smithsonian Science Education Center -- partnered Wednesday with 100Kin10, a group fostering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

The group wants to train 100,000 STEM teachers by the year 2021, a goal President Barack Obama touched on during his 2011 State of the Union address. 100Kin10 now has more than 280 partners, including tech heavy hitters Google and Intel, as well as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"STEM is at the core of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century," said Talia Milgrom-Elcott, co-founder and executive director of 100Kin10, in a press release. "To solve them, we need to activate all the brainpower and diverse experiences of our nation's most precious natural resource: its people."

The new spate of partnerships is the latest step in a broad effort to bridge the technology education gap, particularly for girls and minorities. While 74 percent of middle school girls say they're interested in STEM, just 0.3 percent of high school girls choose computer science as a college major, according to Girls Who Code, which encourages girls to study computer science and engineering.

In January, Obama unveiled the $4 billion "Computer Science for All" plan that seeks to ensure all kids, especially girls and minorities, get a chance to learn computer science. Programs such as Girls Who Code, Google's Made with Code and Qualcomm's Qcamp aim to get girls interested in coding and technology and keep them interested through college.

Group efforts like 100Kin10 could ultimately help offset the industry's gender imbalance by increasing the number of women who graduate with STEM degrees. The name 100Kin10 is an abbreviation for the group's goal of training 100,000 STEM teachers in the US in the next 10 years.

Many tech companies -- including Apple, Facebook, Google and Intel -- have made promises to improve diversity, but progress is slow. The tech industry is still dominated by men, with women filling about 15 percent of tech jobs on average.

And of course, some in Silicon Valley still seem clueless when it comes to women. In December, influential venture capitalist Mike Moritz blamed women for not breaking into the industry during an interview with Bloomberg TV.