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CGEST Year-in-Review Newsletter


The National STEM Collaborative

by Sharon Torres

Through the National STEM Collaborative, a consortium of higher education institutions and non-profit partners, we advocate for girls and women of color in STEM by providing research and evidence based practices, networking resources, programs and initiatives that may be seamlessly implemented in p-20 education settings. We equip fellow advocates with the tools to expand opportunities for girls and women and color to enter, persist, and succeed in STEM both academically and professionally. Click here to see the full list of members of the National STEM Collaborative.

Inaugural Women of Color STEM Entrepreneurship Conference

by Sharon Torres

The New Normal: Women of Color Innovations and Achievements through STEM Entrepreneurship

May 20-22, 2016

ASU Skysong


The inaugural conference this past May 2016 was attended by over 100 delegates from across the country including students from high school to graduate level, faculty, administrators, corporate professionals, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and community members.

The robust curriculum of 10 breakout sessions and five keynote speakers featuring presenters from diverse backgrounds were well received by the attendees. One student who identifies as African American/Latina remarked, “It was empowering to see a gathering of women of color and to hear many successful [stories].” A professor commented, “The panels were excellent. My students were inspired not only to continue to excel in STEM but to be an advocate for more women/women [of] color to be represented in STEM.”

Implicit Bias Learning Map and Hackathon for Social Justice

by Sharon Torres

Hackathon for Social Justice

November 19-20, 2016

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab


Young women from 9th grade to college seniors participated in Hackathon for Social Justice, a 36-hour competition that challenged teams to research, design, and build a web application prototype with the potential to make a lasting impact on the culture and landscape of STEM academia and industry for generations of girls and women of color.

There were 29 participants from 6 states -  3 college students, 3 middle school students, and 23 high school students. There were 20 mentors from various industries including technology, policy, education, and private sector. More than half of the student participants were first-timers to a hackathon and most had no coding experience yet they created, as teams, 5 new technology prototypes that will be used for identifying and addressing implicit bias in the recruitment, hiring, and promotion of STEM faculty in post-secondary institutions. The resulting participatory educational platform will help facilitate a more inclusive process and provide institutions of higher education and STEM industries strategies to diversify their faculty and workforce.

The winning team, Perceptions, created a mobile application that allows users to take a survey on implicit bias, produces a report for each respondent or for a team, makes recommendations, and allows community dialogue. Here is a quick demo of their prototype: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93eyhmez68E.

Digital Repository

by Sharon Torres


Prototype Demo on May 21, 2016

Official Launch: March 25, 2017


The Digital Repository is a curated database of programs, events, scholarly resources, and factoids about women and girls of color in STEM. This online community is designed to support the work and interests of individuals and organizations by providing resources and facilitating connections.

Capacity Building


by Gabriel Contreras-Escontrias, Jr., Ed.D.


Our flagship capacity building program, COMPUGIRLS, was able to serve over 300 girls in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and Wisconsin with the support of the National Science Foundation, State Farm, Intel, and Amazon. Of course, this all would not have been possible without the commitment of our partner sites that included Sadie Nash (NJ), Portable, Practical Educational Preparation - Tucson (AZ), Phoenix Collegiate Academy (AZ), South Point High School (AZ), Papago Elementary (AZ), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (MD), and University of Colorado Denver (CO).


by Gabriel Contreras-Escontrias, Jr., Ed.D.


CGEST was selected among the 15 highest-rated i3 applications under the FY 2016 competition by the U.S. Department of Education. COMPUGIRLS Remixed: Developing a Culturally Responsive Social System is in partnership with the American Institutes for Research, a consortium of 11 of Arizona's highest needs rural and urban schools, and multiple industry and foundation advocates.

COMPUGIRLS in Libraries

by Gabriel Contreras-Escontrias, Jr., Ed.D.


CGEST was awarded a National Leadership Grants for Libraries by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Engaging Libraries in Culturally Responsive STEM Programming is in partnership with the University of Michigan, Ypsilanti Public Library (MI), Imperial County Public Library (CA), and Tempe Public Library (AZ).


by Gabriel Contreras-Escontrias, Jr., Ed.D.


Our first COMPUGIRLS Boot Camp sponsored by State Farm was hosted at the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus on December 9, 2016 in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. Over a hundred girls participated and had an opportunity to be mentored by local industry professionals, hear inspirational remarks by Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego, and receive a rousing welcome from Dr. Sharon Smith, Dean of Students.


This year, the CGEST research team disseminated exciting and impactful results via peer-reviewed publications, national and international conferences, and community events. Through these numerous outlets, the research team was able to reach a diverse audience, including scholars, policymakers, and community organizations. 

The Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology

by Patricia Garcia, Ph.D.


The CGEST research team in collaboration with Dr. Kevin A. Clark of George Mason University and Victoria J. Rideout of VJR Consulting published key findings from a study investigating how African American families are using and learning with technology outside of formal learning environments such as schools. The report "The Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology" was widely disseminated and shared data from a large scale, nationally-representative survey of African American tweens and teens (ages 11 to 17) and their parents, as well as data from a series of ten focus groups across the country.

Sharing of Results

by Patricia Garcia, Ph.D.


Dr. Patricia Garcia, postdoctoral scholar, and Dr. Kimberly Scott shared results documenting the positive impact on girls' academic self-concepts and intersectional identities via publications such as Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism and InterActions.

REU Program Participants Experience Success

by Patricia Garcia, Ph.D.


Students who participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation experienced great success this year. Megan Berry and Felina Rodriguez presented on the role of digital storytelling in building girls' technosocial identities at the International Digital Storytelling Conference, Alma Banuelos was accepted into the Pre-Medical Pathways Program at the University of Arizona, and Mitzi Vilchis was named a Fulbright Scholar.

STEM Scholar at Curtin University

by Megan Berry, NSF REU


This past summer I was afforded the amazing opportunity to travel to Australia for one month, and intern as a visiting STEM scholar with Curtin University. My initial tasks included meeting with STEM experts in Australia to discuss what we here at CGEST have been doing to increase participation of girls of color in STEM and compare to what they have been doing in Australia. I learned about the similarities between our two approaches, but there were also differences where I felt we could learn from each other and establish best practices. As the month continued, our mentor at Curtin gave us the chance to be a part of UNESCO policy briefs. We read through the drafts of policy briefs that arose from EdusummIT 2015 and then proceeded to edit 4 briefs on technology and education. It seems like with the many perspectives working on the UNESCO briefs, every author represented themselves in complex ways (ie: nationality in addition to race, gender, etc.). They all have a different point of view or way of thinking that makes them unique. This allowed me to collaborate with international scholars and I felt as if I was gaining multiple perspectives and new ways of looking at the same issue. This is something I hope to continue in my future studies and work; collaboration that facilitates innovation.

Op-Ed: Our Work Ahead

by Megan Berry and Victoria Jackson, NSF REUs


In the past four years, women of color in STEM fields have seen an increase in education, advocacy, and inclusion. From funding, to conferences, to programs, to publications, women of color have been acknowledged and included in STEM more than ever before. In a recent data pull, from the Arizona State University Library search engine, we found a towering 22,597 publications specifically on women of color in STEM. When immersed in regular literature reviews on this topic, to us it seems normal that this number is so large. However when put into context of 2008 versus 2016, publications on WOC in STEM have almost doubled which shows that more people are recognizing this is an issue that needs to be rectified. In Fall of 2016 CGEST contributed to these publications with The Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology with funding help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There are currently 15 conferences dedicated specifically to women of color in STEM. CGEST contributes to this number with our newly established annual conference. We are currently gearing up for our Women of Color STEM Entrepreneurship Conference, happening in late March. Programs have also seen a similar expansion to include women of color. Fourteen states have taken action to expand computer science education and a new computer science Advanced Placement course has launched and is already in 2,000 classrooms. Plus, more than 500 organizations have made commitments to expand computer science learning. These advancements also inspired more than $1 billion of philanthropic investment; the creation of the White House Science Fair; and leadership commitments from more than 350 colleges and universities to provide pathways to degree attainment for students underrepresented in STEM. As REUs we have worked on these grant applications and conducted the subsequent research first-hand, so we have seen how the importance of sustainable funding is even more pressing as we continue to progress forward in all of these categories. However, we cannot stop here. With the new administration entering the White House, women of color are not guaranteed to continue down this inclusive path. Because of this uncertainty, we at CGEST hope to continue to provide resources to and advocate for women of color in STEM.