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New Smartphone App Encourages Women & Minorities to Learn STEM

Despite the initiatives in place to facilitate the educational growth of people during all walks of life, some fields of study are still lacking diversity. This rings especially true for still-developing pillars of academia, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). However, a professor from NJIT built a smartphone app to help anyone looking to further their knowledge in these fields.

On this episode of Life & Living with Joanna Gagis, Michael J. Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Informatics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), sat down with show host Joanna Gagis. They specifically discussed the ways in which he is engaging young women and minorities in STEM programs with his innovative app.

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STEM is an academic discipline encompassing four technical studies. College students in these fields could major in an array of subjects, including life sciences, accounting, psychology or civil and electrical engineering. All of these can lead to desirable, high-paying professions.

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Lee explains that in these fields, there is under-representation for women and minorities. But his new app, Gidget, helps level the playing field for anyone looking for a carrer in STEM.

“Gidget is designed to engage learners of all ages and to teach them computer science concepts,” says Lee. “So basically what you’re doing in Gidget is solving puzzles but debugging and learning how to code; and we try to really make it accessible to everybody of all ages.”

Gidget doesn’t cater to a specific demographic, so anyone can join in on the fun; in fact, nearly half of the user base is female.

“We thought about making it been very gender inclusive,” Lee states. “So we really wanted to make sure it wasn’t designed for girls [and] it wasn’t designed for boys, but that it was designed so that it be engaging for everybody.”

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