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Girlstart gains a new donor, allowing it to continue building girls’ interest and engagement in the STEM fields.

In an effort to continue to support programs that encourage girls at an early age to embrace STEM-related subjects in school and to embolden them to pursue careers in technology, orderTalk Inc., a leading provider of restaurant online ordering software and services, has donated $5,000 to select Girlstart summer camps and after school programs nationwide. orderTalk’s donation demonstrates the importance of supporting STEM, which can have a big impact on manufacturing.

“As the CEO for a progressive digital ordering company that develops software for the restaurant industry, the demand for innovative food ordering solutions is exploding, and with it the need for qualified and talented employees,” says orderTalk CEO Patrick Eldon. “We need to recalibrate the gender imbalance in the computer programing and software development industries and the best way to do that is to continue to support, encourage and inspire students at a young age.”

Girlstart’s mission is to increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through innovative, nationally-recognized informal STEM education programs. orderTalk’s donation will fund three Girlstart–sponsored weeklong summer STEM camps, helping to offset the cost of STEM supplies and materials and support the professional development of pre-service teachers. The selected STEM camps, which are in Sunnyvale, Calif., Bellevue, Wash. and Elgin, Ill., are for girls in fourth to eighth grade in high-need communities. Camps feature intensive technology components, such as app development and video game development. All of the Girlstart summer campers at these locations are able to participate in summer programs at no cost.

“We want to support the process of discovery among young girls and demonstrate that STEM topics are admirable and exhilarating subjects, deserving of their attention,” Eldon notes. “Learning should be fun and STEM subjects, when taught with passion, are stimulating and engaging.”

Recent surveys indicate that while girls show an increased interest in STEM subjects at age 11, they begin to lose interest in these same subjects between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age. Programs such as those offered by Girlstart are intended to be highly interactive, thought-provoking and engaging to help spark and sustain girls’ interest through the transitional high-school years and into college and beyond.  

“Currently, only 18 percent of computer science degrees and 24 percent of STEM jobs are held by women,” Girlstart Deputy Director Julie Shannan says. “We can’t continue to ignore the fact that the technology industry is growing faster than any other industry, yet evidence suggests that interest in technology-related careers by females is stalling. Girlstart programs strive to reverse this trend by captivating girls early on in their educational path.”

This fall, orderTalk’s donation also will fund two weekly Girlstart STEM after-school programs in Texas at high-need elementary schools in Grand Prairie and Irving. The programs engage fourth and fifth grade girls in hands-on STEM activities based upon their schools’ curriculum. 

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