It's 12:09 p.m. at Buena Vista Horace Mann school in San Francisco's Mission district.
Laura Ramirez, a curriculum technology integration specialist, is waiting for 14 girls to stream into her classroom. The girls' job today is to carefully open old Dell computers, explore and label the components, and then put the hardware back together again.
The girls arrive and place their backpacks into cubbies. They're here for Tech Chicxs, a club Ramirez founded to encourage girls at the K-8 school to explore science, technology, engineering, and math. Approximately 80 percent of the school's students are Hispanic or Latino, and Ramirez is particularly set on engaging girls who are rarely represented in Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry.
Tech Chicxs is far more complex than giving girls the proverbial pat on the back when they code something. Instead, it's the grueling, rewarding work of helping students develop not just technical skills but also character traits like leadership and resilience—and it's happening all across the San Francisco Unified School District.
If SFUSD's efforts are successful at engaging girls and students from underrepresented backgrounds while providing a pathway for them to pursue STEM in college or the workforce, it could yield one antidote to tech's infamous diversity problem.
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