Creating pathways for girls in data science
Data drives today’s world, but for many middle and high school-aged girls — especially those from underserved communities — the science behind that data is not always accessible. As a company built on data analysis, Moody’s is committed to increasing opportunities for women in the [data analytics] industry. Moody’s created Generation Giga Girls (G3) five years ago in a joint effort with Girls Inc. to meet these needs.
As the first-ever data analytics program for girls from low-income communities, G3 is helping girls build skills in statistics, computer programming and data analysis. Since G3’s launch, we have reached approximately 1,000 students throughout New York City. And in 2019, G3 expanded for the first time to 11 new locations in the US and one in Canada: Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Georgia; Denver; Island City, California; Franklin, Indiana; Long Island, New York; Minneapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Orange County, California; Sarasota, Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; and Brockville, Ontario.
Expansion through immersion
In 2019, Moody’s helped Girls Inc. launch the Fast Track Teacher Training Institute, a weeklong intensive for educators interested in bringing the interactive, online G3 program to their schools. The institute immerses educators in what Pamela J. Maraldo, CEO of Girls Inc. of New York City, calls the “G3 experience” so that they can be quickly onboarded and better equipped to serve participants.
This approach ultimately allows more instructors to teach the G3 curriculum, creating a sustainable model that will continue to reach and inspire more future mathematicians, data scientists and analysts.
As the G3 footprint grows, Moody’s is committed to helping Girls Inc. reflect the diversity of its communities. That starts with ensuring the girls are able to see themselves reflected in the learning materials.
“We knew the mental barriers to engaging with data science would be lower if the girls could relate to the characters and vignettes on the online program,” says Maraldo. “So this year, as our team collaborated on the look, feel and ease of use of the G3 digital platform, we made it a focus to design digital avatars that are not only diverse in race and ethnicity but that represent the various complexities of socioeconomic status, educational pursuits and gender identity. We wanted the girls to see stories that they could relate to — that made them the protagonist of their own stories.”
“We wanted the girls to see stories that they could relate to — that made them the protagonist of their own stories.”
PAMELA J. MARALDO
CEO, GIRLS INC. OF NEW YORK CITY
The data days of summer
Intensives are not only for the teachers. As part of Moody’s G3 Data Analytics Program, every year, the Summer Data Analytics Institute at St. Francis College in New York City provides an immersive and focused experience for girls to take data off the screen and out into the world. This past year, about 50 teen girls from across the New York area participated in a summer program in which technology and data science became a lived experience.
“G3 teaches you the fundamentals of data analytics, but it’s even more than that. It’s everything we need to know to be better prepared for college and our careers.”
G3 PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
Led by four trained Girls Inc. staff members, G3 welcomed a new cohort, along with returning participants. Throughout the summer, the girls participated in classes designed to view data as part of everyday life. They reviewed articles on current events and analyzed the metadata to come to their own conclusions about the subject matter, explored the ethical usage of data stored by phone apps and learned to effectively use Microsoft Excel and Tableau software. And then, inspired by the work of women who are making a difference in how data are being collected, analyzed and used, they took on their own social justice data visualization projects.
“This program helps you understand challenges that you’re going to meet in life and how to overcome them,” says Porscha,* a 16-year-old participant. “G3 teaches you the fundamentals of data analytics, but it’s even more than that. It’s everything we need to know to be better prepared for college and our careers.”
The future of G3
We aim to roll out even more locations for this program across the US and Canada in the coming years. Jennifer Stula Rivera, CSR regional head of the Americas at Moody’s Corporation, elaborated on these efforts at Girls Inc.’s annual national conference in Arlington, Texas, in September 2019.
“Sharing the positive outcomes we’ve seen from the program sparked a lot of buzz at that conference and afterwards,” says Stula Rivera. “Many Girls Inc. affiliates have since reached out expressing interest in bringing the program to their cities in 2020.”
*Only first name used for privacy.