Teaching data science through the lens of social justice issues

Published: Thursday 21st March 2019

Girls Inc. of New York City and the Elsevier Foundation partner to teach girls data analytics skills.

High school students Maryrose and Ester analyze data after compiling it from a database on out-of-school suspension rates in America. (© girlsinnyc.org)


When Esther, a native of the Bronx, started high school, she struggled with math. The difficulties she experienced fed into her frustration, causing her to lose confidence in a vicious cycle.

“I noticed people understanding the problems and getting the answer quicker than I was, and that was really discouraging. It made me more insecure about my math skills, and everything just become harder and harder.”

Unfortunately, Ester’s experience is not unique. This, and other factors, have led to a dearth of women in the STEM workforce – a problem Girls Inc and the Elsevier Foundation are addressing with a new program in New York City.

Women hold just 26% of data science-related jobs, and minority women have a bleaker employment picture, according to a 2017 report by AAUW. In 2017, less than one in 10 women in the data workforce were minorities: Asian (5%), African American (3%) and Hispanic (1%).

Through its programming, Girls Inc, a nonprofit serving girls ages 6 to18 at more than 1,400 sites in 400 cities across the United States and Canada, has prepared girls to study in STEM fields and attain college and postgraduate degrees.