Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2015 is a Strong, Bipartisan Effort to Create American Jobs

Posted by Todd Schulte on 01/13/2015

Today, we’re glad to see a strong bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to introduce a commonsense high-skilled immigration bill that would make it easier for the best and the brightest STEM students who’ve gone to school here to contribute more fully to our communities and our economy. We are a nation of immigrants, but we no longer have a system of laws that make sense for our economy and for our families. The introduction of this bill is a key step to ensure that we can continue to lead the world in innovation: simply put, our nation is not living up to its potential, and we are missing out on economic growth and the creation of American jobs until we make it easier for the best and brightest to stay here and contribute.

This is not the comprehensive solution to fixing our broken immigration system that we at FWD.us are fighting for every day, but its introduction is an important step in the right direction, and we applaud the Senators supporting this bill on both sides of the aisle for seeking a legislative path forward.

8 Women-in-Tech Organizations You Need to Know

Posted by Viola Olayinka on 01/08/2015

It’s no secret that women are seriously underrepresented in the tech industry. In 2014, the White House estimated that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million jobs in programming and computing fields, yet women make up only a small percentage of the tech workforce and computer science programs across the country. In fact, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women make up only 26% of the computing industry – and only 10% of those women are African American, Asian-American, or Latina.

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Organizations such as Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, Women 2.0, The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and CODE2040, all operate with the mission of leveling the playing field and  closing the inequality gap by fostering clear pipelines into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce for underrepresented groups. Here are a few more notable organizations working hard to combat gender inequality in tech and lift up female tech leaders and role models.

 shestarteditlogo1.pngShe Started It

She Started It is a documentary focused on female tech founders in the U.S. and in Europe. The film follows the lives of inspirational tech entrepreneurs and aims to provide positive role models in the tech industry for young girls. Watch the inspirational trailer and learn more about the project here.

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Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code works to inspire, educate, and equip high school junior and senior girls to consider careers in the technology and engineering sectors. The Girls Who Code program hosts an annual seven week summer immersion course in various location across the United States. In the summer program students learn robotics, web design, mobile development, and are connected with female tech entrepreneurs and leaders through mentorship. Check out the amazing program and learn more from the program’s alumni.

Hackbright_Academy_logo copy.pngHackbright Academy

Hackbright Academy is a 10-week software development training program exclusively for women. Their office is located in the heart of San Francisco, California. The organization’s main goal is to connect women from non-traditional science backgrounds and train them to become software engineers. Learn more about the amazing organization and it’s latest cohort on their website.

wogrammers-logo (1).pngWogrammer

Wogrammer highlights amazing women in computer science and engineering fields. The organization regularly utilizes social media to feature inspiring women in tech and share their personal journeys navigating the computer science industry. With their work, Wogrammer aims to dispel stereotypes through storytelling. Read more about inspirational women in tech careers.

86323cc2a34ce2314d2c8100c0bd9e20_400x400.jpegWomen Who Code

Women Who Code is a group dedicated to inspiring women to excel in tech careers. Women Who Code provides training, mentorship, and networking through weekly meet ups and technical study groups in various computer programming languages. Together thousands of women are learning how to code in Python, Ruby, Javascript, as well as building apps for iOS, Android, and deep diving into the world of algorithms. Find out which cities and countries you can find a Women Who Code chapter!

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Girl Develop It

Girl Develop It offers courses for women to learn web and software development. Girl Develop It provides affordable and accessible programs to women with through mentorship and hands-on instruction in local chapters throughout the nation. Their overall mission is to empower women of diverse backgrounds to learn how to develop software. Learn more about the cities they’re currently impacting.

logo.pngBlack Girls Code

Black Girls Code was launched to provide pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn technical skills and computer programming early on in their lives. The organization was created after its founder, Kimberly Bryant, realized the scarcity of African-American women in science, technology, engineering, and math professions. Bryant was inspired to make a change and create an impact in early education, especially after seeing the impact in her young daughter’s computing class. Find out more about the group’s goals and mission.

logo (2).pngPYLadies

PYLadies is a group of female developers who specialize in the Python computer programing language. The organization hosts peer-to-peer learning and mentoring sessions through multiple chapters around the world. Attendees range from newbies with little background in coding to expert-level programmers. Check out the organization here.

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Get involved! Join us at the San Francisco ThinkFWD panel discussion on Jan. 15: What’s the Hold Up? Accelerating Opportunity for Women in Tech. Our expert panel will dissect the barriers to opportunity for women in tech and propose solutions for a more diverse workforce.

Volunteer Spotlight: Barbara

Posted on 01/05/2015

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Name: Barbara Astrini

Current City: Raleigh, NC

What inspired you to get involved with FWD.us? 

First, Jose Antonio Vargas told us it was okay to talk about immigration. Then Mark Z. came out with the rest of the tech community, and as an immigrant woman in tech, I found a platform. There are millions of DREAMers fighting the good fight because no talent should be wasted, and the U.S. is our home.

What team are you volunteering on and why? 

Content team. It is important to not only be passionate about a cause, but to go to the front of the lines to do something about it, and FWD.us’ methods fit perfectly with my skills. I’m an animator and graphic designer and occasionally dabble on social media analytics, and I use these tools to spread the word.

What has been your most memorable moment so far in organizing for immigration reform? 

Seeing so many people coming out and telling their stories in complete candor at our first happy hour. There was definitely a sense of trust and camaraderie, even though many of us had just met. At the end of the night, the server told us the story of how her father is finding it impossible to get back to the States to see his American wife and daughter. Everybody has a different story and angle but we’re all in the same fight. 

Favorite quote?  It’s between Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici” and Tim Gunn’s “Make it work.”

Favorite food? Rice, in any style!

VOLUNTEER NOW

Undocumented student is first to research DACA’s impact on wages

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 12/19/2014

245% – that’s how much Francisco López-Flores’s wages increased after he received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). After charting the profound effect DACA had on his own life, Francisco, a UCLA student, started researching the impact DACA had on the wages of his community.

On Friday, Francisco traveled to Washington D.C. to present his findings to lawmakers. FWD.us caught up with him before his presentation to chat about his experience as an undocumented student, the fight for reform, and his investigation into the measurable impact of DACA.

FWD.us: DACA hugely impacted your life. What was your life like before receiving DACA?

López-Flores: I came to the U.S. when I was five years old with my mom and was raised in a single parent household in Riverside, CA. My family has been very much affected by immigration policy over the last twenty years. My mother was deported, but she was luckily able to return. My younger brother was also deported and decided to stay in Mexico, and my youngest brother is a U.S. citizen.

I’m very lucky to have received DACA because I saw the effects almost immediately. With respect to wages, I saw a 245% increase in my wages. Before DACA, a lot of my work was informal and below minimum wage. There’s no protection for undocumented workers. I would work unloading cargo at a warehouse from trailers that came into the ports in LA and Long Beach, I would clean houses – you name it and I’ve done it to try to get by.

FWD.us: Now that you have DACA you’re able to work full time at Santa Monica Hospital as an HR Specialist. What did it feel like to receive your work permit?

López-Flores: I’ve entered the formal labor market. My skillset can finally commensurate with my job type. I feel so lucky to be able to apply for scholarships that I didn’t have access to before without a social security number. I feel like DACA has given me a huge advantage.

FWD.us: You ended up being the first person to research the direct impact of DACA on wages. How did you make that happen?

López-Flores: I study Chicano Studies and Society and Genetics at UCLA. I approached my professor with the data I had about my own wage growth after DACA. My professor really liked the idea of doing more research with a greater sample size. So, for my class project I interviewed six subjects about their wage growth after DACA. Then, we did a survey with over 200 respondents. The data we’re presenting today shows that before DACA, the mean wage for respondents was $7.19 per hour. After DACA, these individuals have a mean wage of $15.29 per hour. That’s a 113% increase in wages!

FWD.us: The increase in wages is enormous – Can you tell us more about what you’re doing with all of this data?

López-Flores: Lawmakers have been really interested in this research because there really isn’t much data about the economic impact of DACA, specifically on wage growth. My professor at UCLA has done previous research on migration and wage growth and helped me to assemble a report that will be presented today. I traveled to D.C. with the North American Integration and Development Center and the César Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA to present on the data we’ve compiled and also showcase data on how DACA recipients have benefitted from other kinds of financial inclusion, such as access and use of banking services, credit, loans, and tax filings.

FWD.us: What does President Obama’s executive action on immigration mean for your community and what does 2015 hold for you in the fight for immigration reform?

López-Flores: I’m really excited that these executive orders were done and that 5 million people will be able to benefit, but I think we need to address the 7 million people who were left out. So, I think 2015 is really about framing immigration reform is an economic issue of utmost importance. I want to continue to measure the impact of DACA and of the new programs from set forth by executive action.

Undocumented students really changed the discourse on immigration. We weren’t able to pass the DREAM Act, but we eventually got DACA. I think this project is reframing the issue and showing the impact on the young people who are affected by programs like DACA.