As part of its ongoing support for Girls Who Code (GWC), a renowned nonprofit teaching computer science to young women across the U.S., 21st Century Fox recently welcomed 19 Los Angeles-area high school students to the Fox Lot for a full day of STEM-related activities, including a lunch with the company’s top technology leaders.
The Colleague Network & Resource Group Women in Technology (WiT) partnered with 21CF Social Impact to organize the visit, which occurred as part of GWC’s Summer Immersion Program. The students received a special behind-the-scenes look at some of the studio’s newest technologies and met with company executives to discuss how the STEM fields play a critical role in the future of the entertainment industry.
21CF executives Chief Technology Officer Paul Cheesbrough; Chief Information Officers John Herbert and Alex Grimwade; as well as SVP of Consumer Intelligence & Strategy Bettina Sherick met with the students and discussed the sparks that ignited their own careers and the efforts necessary to arrive at their destinations.
Bettina added insights on rising through the ranks and her passion to inspire others while pushing back against barriers in the technology sector, especially for women of color.
“After the decades of decline of women in computer science, we are finally seeing an uptick. I want to see the next generation enjoy the same welcoming environment that I found at the start of my career,” Alex said. “Organizations like GWC are making a marked difference.”
The students also visited the Fox VFX Lab, which is Fox Feature Entertainment’s in-house virtual production providing cutting-edge technology for film, TV, game and VR content. The day also included a tour of the Fox Innovation Lab, where the students shadowed interns developing code for product apps and franchise video games.
(L-R) 21CF Chief Information Officer John Herbert; SVP of Consumer Intelligence & Strategy Bettina Sherick; and Chief Information Officer Alex Grimwade
“I’ve long admired the mission and achievements of Reshma [Saujani, founder and CEO] and the Girls Who Code team and we’re thrilled that our support will help them deliver their vision,” Paul said when the partnership was announced earlier this year. “Programs like these are key to ensuring that girls have the support they need to succeed in computer science. This relationship will be great for our technologists and essential for our business as we work to empower and recruit more women engineers and technologists across all of our brands.”
Paul, John, Alex and Bettina are further helping close the gender gap in STEM through a variety of 21CF initiatives, including a multiyear commitment with Girls Who Code to support two significant initiatives: GWC’s new College Loops program, which will drive retention and community among female computer science majors by engaging Girls Who Code alumni at universities; and the development of the organization’s international presence. Both efforts will help the organization move closer to its goal of closing the gender gap in technology.
WiT’s mission is to promote a culture that attracts, retains and advances women in STEM. In addition to the Girls Who Code partnership, the group continues to deliver on its commitment to educate and promote access with efforts such as its “Knowledge Circles” mentorship program and hosting “Tech Talks” for colleagues across the company.
Last year, WiT and 21CF Social Impact pioneered #HiddenNoMore, a State Department exchange program inspired by the Fox 2000 film “Hidden Figures” that brought female STEM leaders from 48 countries to the U.S. for three weeks of learning and professional development.
The company also recently partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media to study the influence that “The X-Files” character Dana Scully had on women and girls deciding to pursue STEM careers, a phenomenon known as The Scully Effect. Research revealed that that nearly two-thirds of women in the study who work in STEM say Agent Scully served as a role model and increased their belief in the importance of STEM, highlighting the tremendous value of representation and inclusion in media.