San Jose Students Visit eBay During California’s Women and Girls in STEM Week

By: Jennifer O'Connell and Adam Kohler, eBay News Team

Fifth grade girls met a group of eBay leaders at the event, which was organized in partnership with Techbridge.

eBay welcomes the declaration of Women and Girls in STEM Week in California, following the passage of ACR 133  by the California Legislature today. We supported the legislation, which aims to develop a more diverse workforce by encouraging girls and women to consider a career in STEM.

As part of our efforts to foster diversity in Silicon Valley, a group of fifth grade girls from two East San Jose schools were welcomed onto campus at eBay’s global headquarters on Tuesday April 5, for a day of hands-on activities and mentoring.

The students – 21 fifth-grade girls from Rocketship Si Se Puede and Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep – met leaders from engineering, product development, HR and technology at the event, which was organized by Techbridge in partnership with eBay’s Women In Technology (eWIT).

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The girls grilled the leaders on a wide range of topics, from their childhood dream job to the identity of their favorite soccer player or presidential candidate

The girls had a chance to get to know the mentors in structured interview sessions, where they discussed everything from the meaning of ‘diversity’ to their love of coding. During the sessions, the girls grilled the leaders on a wide range of topics, from their childhood dream job; to the college they attended; to the identity of their favorite soccer player or presidential candidate.

Fifth grader Leyla quizzed HR Director Pilar Martinez on her favorite thing about technology. Another student, Katrina, wondered how eBay engineers come up with their ideas for new products and what they have to do to bring these ideas to life.

“In fun filled events like this, elementary school girls not only get to meet women role models but also to get inspired and excited by learning what they do, and why they chose to pursue a career in STEM themselves,” said Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director, Product Management at eBay. 

Medha Samant, Director, Product Management at eBay, said the the goal of the event was to expose the students to real life women leaders. "The leaders can share their backgrounds, talk to the girls about the exciting work they do, the importance of schooling and the types of opportunities that exist in the tech industry. Based on my childhood experience I believe these kind of events and activities can be inspiring.”

Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep teacher, Monica Castro, explained why events like last week's are so important for girls in underserved communities. “We are committed to eliminating the achievement gap in underserved communities which means we must prepare our Rocketeers with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century global workforce. The inspiring women of eBay shared their insights on how STEM education has shaped their lives and careers,” she said.

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“Our Rocketeers left encouraged by the possibilities and motivated to excel in their STEM studies and to succeed in college and beyond.”

After lunch with the leaders, the girls visited the eBay Site Engineering Center, where they were able to see how global activity across our platform is monitored in real time. Before leaving, they took part in a simulated eBay auction.

These girls start with stereotyped ideas that all engineers look like Albert Einstein. We want to dispel those stereotypes

 

"Most of these girls start with stereotyped ideas that all engineers look like Albert Einstein. We want to dispel those stereotypes for girls to begin to aspire to STEM careers," said Jen Jayme, Director of Development and Communications for Techbridge.

"Without relatable role models, very few girls can relate a cool STEM activity to a dream career. That's why outreach efforts like eBay’s eWIT events are so critical to nurturing diversity. The diverse eBay women who participated in our visit kicked open doors of opportunity for those girls - they had more impact than many realize."

The reaction from the girls themselves was universally positive, their teachers said.

Rocketship Education is a nonprofit public charter network of elementary schools founded in 2007, which is working to eliminate the achievement gap. It serves almost 7,000 students in low-income communities where access to excellent schools is limited.

Techbridge is an award-winning national nonprofit which inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science and engineering. For over a decade, the organization has been giving girls in underserved communities real-world exposure to organizations and opportunities to pursue their dreams and careers.