Rachel Wilkins Patel
It is predicted that technology jobs will grow by twenty percent by the year 2020. But the number of women earning degrees in computer science has declined in the past few years with only about 18% of computer science undergraduate degrees in the field being awarded to women. To help combat this trend Rachel Wilkins Patel is using her skills in technology and new media production for social change. Earning a BA in English and MFA in screen writing and film studies from Hollins University, she has worked as a digital marketing manager, a university instructor, and as a web developer. For over ten years she has used user experience design and development to engineer designs that make multi-device user interface possible. By using an iterative design process that can implement changes based on user reactions to the content, each iteration becomes more user driven and unique to the application.
In 2010 she founded HER Ideas in Motion, a nonprofit based in Cleveland, Ohio that is focused on helping girls achieve in technology and media arts. They use hands on workshops and tech clubs to help girls learn technical and creative skills from professionals all while building their own projects. They follow a women-led approach that is a combination of female creative and technical professionals to teach and mentor girls in an effort to provide access to female role models.
As part of her work in encouraging girls and women to explore computer science she facilitated a panel entitled “MOOCS the good, the bad and the ugly” at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology Conference in 2013. In 2014 HER Ideas In Motion received a Google Roots in Science and Engineering Award to support expansion of its parent daughter hackday program and in 2015 Wilkins Patel was listed in the Heroes of the 500 from Fortune Magazine. Wilkins Patel is currently serving as a board member and President Emeritus of HER Ideas in Motion and as a webmaster outreach project manager for Google.
Written by Angela Goad