Welcome to Stemiverse Podcast episode 42.

In this episode, Dr Peter Dalmaris talks with Ruthe Farmer.

Ruthe Farmer is Chief Evangelist at CSforALL, a national organisation in the United States, working to bring rigorous, inclusive and sustainable computer science education to all US students.

Ruth previously served in the Obama administration as Senior Policy Advisor for Tech Inclusion in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.

As a policymaker and activist Ruthe’s focus is on increasing girls’ participation in technology and engineering.

Here's some of the amazing work she has done, and some of the awards she has received in the past:

She has worked for the Girl Scouts, as a program manager for STEM education, and was a founding committee member of the Oregon Robotics and Tournament Outreach Program. Ruthe was named a "Champion of Change for Technology Inclusion" by the White House in 2013 and won the Anita Borg Institute's 2014 Social Impact ABIE award.

This is Stemiverse Podcast episode 42.


Stemiverse podcast is brought to you by Tech Explorations, a leading provider of educational resources for Makers, STEM students, and teachers. Go to txplore.com to see a complete list of our books and courses covering the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and electronics.

Show Notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Ruthe Farmer
[03:40] Ruthe talks about her background and what brought her to where she is now
[05:10] Ruthe’s introduction to feminism through a class into the rhetoric of women
[05:33] Examples of Influential Women: Ada Wells, Susan B. Anthony
[05:48] The contributions of women were left out of history books
[06:12] What would Ruthe do for the world if she could write a grant for any amount of money?
[06:49] Ruthe's journey from Advertising & Marketing to Girl Scouts of the USA and Intel Design & Discovery
[09:57] Being an advocate of Computer Science despite having a background other than computer science or teaching
[17:16] Computer Science for All | Ruthe Farmer | TEDxBeaconStreet
[19:44] "There’s this perception that because we have computers, we actually have computing education."
[19:56] Computer science was much stronger in the 80s and 90s
[21:03] Everything is a touchscreen for 3-year-olds!
[21:36] There’s a massive amount of investment in EdTech, but there are not enough trained in computer science teachers
[22:32] Did something change in the last years that put computer science education back on the map?
[23:59] NSF Broadening Participation
[24:11] National Center for Women & Information Technology
[25:42] Prior experience is critical for success in college
[26:06] The genesis of STEM and the missing discipline
[28:00] Ruthe’s work at the Obama Administration as a senior policy advisor
[31:18] Ruthe talks about her experience in the White House: Scout & Scale, CSforALL Movement
[35:54] The fields where computational thinking can be applied
[38:13] Understanding computational thinking
[39:32] The engineering and technology disciplines suffer from an image issue
[45:53] The importance of mentors and advice for teachers who want to bring CS to the classroom
[48:09] Twitter chats: #csk8 , @CSforAllTchrs , #csforallteachers
[48:19] The Computer Science Teachers Association
[49:36] Mentors and sponsors vs. the traditional teacher
[52:35] Reasons for declining a sponsorship discussion for a student and advice to organizations on how to help and support CSforALL
[54:31] The Boeing Saint Louis Example: Building a Makerspace and hiring teenagers as interns to teach
[55:30] What would Ruthe do to promote CS, having an unlimited budget? Make it financially attractive to become a CS teacher and put resources into building a pipeline of teachers of color in CS
[57:07] Movies like Black Panther and the power of role models - A research study that showed girls 6 and under, drawing a woman scientist 75% (The Doc McStuffins effect)
[58:40] Rapid Fire Questions
[58:51] Ruthe's Book Recommendations: ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury
[01:01:05] Fake news and the importance of education in being able to discern what's important
[01:02:37] Opportunity for activism and change enabled with technology
[01:03:35] Most influential people according to Ruthe: Dr Janis Lochner, Professor of Biochemistry at Lewis & Clark College, and the importance of encouragement
[01:06:32] The social cost for girls who want to take CS classes
[01:08:00] CSforALL Summit 2018
[01:11:55] CSforALL Summit 2017 - Video Archive
[01:12:23] Ruthe's Contact Information: Email: [email protected], Twitter: @RutheF