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Coding with purpose: STEM Action Grant helps inspire more girls in STEM

Anvita Gupta, founder of LITAS For Girls, is an Intel STS 2015 and Intel ISEF 2013 alumna. Photo courtesy of Anvita Gupta.

When Anvita Gupta was in eleventh grade, all but two girls dropped out of her computer science class. She started to think about why she was so interested in computer science, and realized it was because she could use it to make an impact in the world. This led her to found LITAS For Girls, an international nonprofit that guides and inspires girls to pursue STEM careers. LITAS For Girls inspires young women to not just learn to code, but code with a purpose.

As an Intel STS 2015 and Intel ISEF 2013 alumna, Anvita recognizes the power STEM has to change the world. With a STEM Action Grant from Society for Science & the Public, LITAS For Girls is inspiring the next generation of women in STEM.

“There’s not a lack of interest. A lot of it is a confidence problem,” Anvita said. Thanks to organizations like LITAS For Girls, young women are developing confidence in computer science.

Read more below as Anvita explains how the STEM Action Grant has helped LITAS For Girls inform, educate, and inspire new audiences to pursue STEM fields.

How the STEM Action Grant helped LITAS For Girls achieve their goals:

Our goal at LITAS this year was to scale our project-based learning approach to communities and students around the globe, teaching students to code with a purpose and giving them a platform to present their ideas.

Through the STEM Action Grant, LITAS has been able to accomplish this goal. From 2017 to 2018, we launched grassroots initiatives to inspire women in STEM in more than six cities in the United States and three countries (India, Singapore, and Montenegro), applying our unique project-based learning approach to help young women worldwide advance in science, technology, and entrepreneurship.

This year, we launched our LITAS certification program, allowing us to partner with local grassroots initiatives by providing them with LITAS curriculum and resources. Through our certification program, students apply STEM to solve real-world applications. The mentorship program we launched this year, will guide students by women entrepreneurs, engineers, and more in their endeavors.

A STEM Action Grant helped LITAS For Girls reach more people in the past year. Photo Courtesy of LITAS For Girls.

LITAS has also conducted workshops in computer science and entrepreneurship in Arizona, the Bay Area, and India. Many of our workshops impact underprivileged students who have no previous experience in computer science. After the CS Bay Area workshop, 100% of responders said they would be likely to consider a career in technology.

Indeed, this year alone, LITAS students have applied their knowledge to various fields, from computer science to medicine, clean energy, and even politics At the Bay area workshop, young women designed websites that make it easier to contact local government officials to hold them accountable, to provide job fairs for women, and prevent elderly abuse. LITAS 2017 alumni have gone on to major in STEM fields in college, be recognized in Society-affiliated science fairs, and even start LITAS-affiliated clubs to give back.

Anvita Gupta, founder of LITAS For Girls, is an Intel STS 2015 and Intel ISEF 2013 alumna.
Anvita Gupta, founder of LITAS For Girls, is an Intel STS 2015 and Intel ISEF 2013 alumna. Photo courtesy of Anvita Gupta.

The impact of the STEM Action Grant:

In 2017-2018, our LITAS programming has impacted upwards of three hundred students in six cities around the United States and three countries internationally. This year, we have piloted our LITAS certification program with a batch of six clubs, each consisting of approximately 30 students, and having an overall outreach of 180 students. Through our grassroots programs in the Bay Area, Arizona, and India, we have been able to reach girls from sixth through twelfth grade, more than 50% of whom had no previous computer science experience or would be first in their families to attend college.

The Society for Science & the Public is proud to support LITAS For Girls as they encourage young women to learn to code for a purpose.