By Madeline Farber
June 28, 2017

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is on a mission to get more girls to pursue careers in technology and engineering.

Barra announced that GM will pledge $850,000 to four nonprofits — Code.org, Black Girls Code, Institute of Play and Digital Promise — for programs that encourage young women and minorities to gain skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The funding will also support teacher training programs in STEM-related fields.

GM chose the four organizations because they are working to close the gender and minority gap in STEM careers. The nonprofit Code.org will receive $200,000 toward its goal of making computer science classes a regular part of the daily curriculum in schools — as essential as math or history. Nine million girls are currently learning to code through the organization, and 48% of its online course participants are minorities who are underrepresented in computer science fields. GM’s grant will allow the group to train an additional 1,400 computer science teachers, who will teach roughly 40,000 secondary students starting in the fall, according to Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.

Barra sees the investments in STEM education as particularly important as the automotive industry becomes more tech-focused, pursuing innovations such as electric and self-driving cars.

“By expanding and improving access to STEM education, we’re developing teachers’ and students’ capabilities — and it’s my hope those students become graduates who are equipped to join us in the technical fields required to lead in the future of mobility,” Barra said.

Barra wants to see young women gaining the skills they need to not just work at GM, but to “give them the opportunity to sit at the senior leadership table.”

And for young girls considering a career in STEM, Barra has a simple piece of advice: “Don’t take yourself out of the game before the game starts,” she says.

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