Carisa S. is passionate about bridging the gender gap in tech. While researching factors that dissuade girls from pursuing careers in STEM-related fields, she learned about cyberbullying and its devastating effects on young women. That summer, Carisa researched the psychological effects of cyberbullying on children extensively, and learned that although many students use the internet daily, most schools do not have a program to teach internet safety. Carisa decided to create an internet safety curriculum using her computer science knowledge.
Fifty-two percent of students in the US have reported being cyberbullied. Ninety-six percent of children use social media and ninety-five percent of teenagers who witnessed cyberbullying ignored the behavior. Girls are twice as likely to be victims of cyberbullying, which has long-lasting psychological, social, and physical effects. Cyberbullying disproportionately affects middle school girls, impacting their confidence, their willingness to pursue STEM, and their desire to hold leadership roles. Most girls have decided whether or not they want to pursue a career in tech by the end of middle school. Cyberbullying prevents girls from going into tech, which further increases the gender gap. CyberSensibility aims to combat cyberbullying, empower girls, and help bridge the gender gap in tech.
CyberSensibility is a free, online internet safety program that provides modules, videos, and worksheets to teach cybersecurity and combat cyberbullying. Each lesson contains worksheets that teachers can easily and inexpensively reproduce to reach more students, making the project sustainable. We are working with corporate sponsors using the Clinton Global Initiative to disseminate the curriculum to schools nationwide. We plan to specifically target underrepresented minorities in STEM and children from underfunded schools in order to bridge the gender gap and increase visibility in the computer science industry.