Posted by Stacy Jeziorowski on Mar 04, 2021
Headshot of Laura Ramirez
CSTA Equity Fellow Laura Ramirez defines equity from her first-hand experiences with injustice in her educational journey.

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CSTA Equity Fellow Laura Ramirez defines equity from her first-hand experiences with injustice in her educational journey.
“Working in a historically systemic oppressive educational institution, resulting in biased curriculum and lack of resources and funding for teachers and students, equity is the ability to provide students with support that closes the achievement gap that has plagued our educational system for too long,” shared Ramirez.
Ramirez’s experience has shaped her educational career. She focuses on helping students recognize that their voice is a powerful tool, makes intentional attempts to meet their unique needs, and provides resources to support their educational journey.
As a Curriculum Tech Integration Specialist for grades K-5 in the Mission in San Francisco, Ramirez recognized some problematic behaviors affecting her female students. “During tech class, girls were too hesitant to start tech activities or take risks, boys would dominate group tasks, and girls lacked confidence, even when I had established classroom norms that nurtured failure positivity, risk-taking, and an overall positive learning environment for our vulnerable students (i.e. newcomers/ELs, girls, students of color, gender spectrum).”
A group of girls around a table working on a project during Tech Chicas
Upon reflection and research, Ramirez started a girls tech group – Tech Chicas – to get 6-8th grade girls interested in STEM, help solve the tech issues, and provide a space for girls to take risks with technology and have a supportive space to rewire their tuning around not belonging in the tech/STEM world. Since its inception, Tech Chicas has evolved to Tech Chicxs to include gender-expansive youth and during distance learning, Tech Queens, serving kinder and 4th grade girls.
For the past two years, Tech Chicxs has been an elective for middle school students. During distance learning, Ramirez facilitates activities for BIPOC girls in K-5. Through her advocacy, she’s created a safe space for K-5 students to explore, use power tools, and fun CS activities that may cause triggers that show up in behaviors from their inability to debug or from problem-solving struggles.
“As a way to tackle triggers from students’ uncontrolled behavior, my school has established “peace tables” (pre COVID-19) where students select activities that serve as de-stressors and therapeutic activities that take their minds off their anxiety or feeling as a result of their struggle in computer science. Now, I post “relaxation” links for students to access during distance learning.”
“I have created a virtual classroom where I supply links to breathing exercises, therapeutic and relaxing mindfulness activities and other helpful sites to reground them,” said Ramirez. “Somatics and trauma-informed practices in my CS classroom are helpful to my BIPOC students. I have observed fewer students of color walk out of class and were able to complete tasks by providing this safe space. They request a brain break and ask for their needs. These are successful milestones because many BIPOC students are kicked out of classrooms for “unruly” behavior. When I notice changes in their behavior, I have tools for them to conquer their frustrations.”
Ramirez has developed many community partnerships that have played a huge role in tackling the inequities of CS education at her school. “It truly takes a village to do the social justice line of work in education,” said Ramirez.
Inspiring Girls Now In Tech Evolution (IGNITE) has provided field trip opportunities to tech compliance and organizes women in STEM panels and opportunities for students to connect and learn from these panelists. Ramirez fosters relationships with these panelists to help connect them with students in Tech Chicxs.
Laura Ramirez at a meeting with her school's teacher-led girls group. A TV screen reads "women in STEM panelists" behind the group
“Tech Chicxs created a battery-operated car and I reached out to SF Film, who funded a field trip to watch the movie Bumblebee,” said Ramirez. “From that connection, I was able to score a field trip to LucasFilm that included a tour and a talk with women producers. Representation matters. Through these opportunities, my BIPOC students were able to learn that landing a tech job doesn’t require you to be in the computer science field. Being creative art majors can land you a tech job, and most women are overqualified for a job, but their nerves and self-esteem get in a way of applying. Applying for a job that may seem out of reach is something that girls should attempt to try, even if they think they won’t qualify. Receiving great advice from the exposure to tech field working women is inspiring to our youth and it was all possible by reaching out to organizations and asking for help.”
Ramirez has also joined forces with her school’s teacher-led girls group, GANA (Grupo para el Avance de Ninãs y Aliadxs or Group for the Advancement of Girls and their Allies). GANA has grown to have 12-15 teacher members strong in tackling our inequities our girls and gender-expansive students experience at our school, through lessons, events, and field trips. These teachers meet once a month to create lessons for students on how to be an ally, and other girl power/ intersectionality/ allyship activities.
Ramirez applied to become a CSTA Equity Fellow to learn from her peers.
“I am striving to be a leader for equity in CS by meeting the needs of the community I serve and bring to light these inequities, make great efforts to start a movement within my community to address them. This means having uncomfortable conversations for the greater good,” shared Ramirez. “I would like to learn how to facilitate these meetings that include loving accountability amongst my community members, learn how to hold space for teachers and students, share resources and how to access help from the CS community and above all, foster the love for CS and STEM.”
With her fellow members of this cohort, Ramirez is working on creating a CSEd website that hosts podcasts OneVoiceinCS, representing BIPOC in CS and STEM which includes resources for anyone interested in CS.
You can learn more about Ramirez, this year’s cohort, and the CSTA Equity Fellowship program here.
Photo 1:  Picture of middle school girls in Tech Chicxs group (pre-pandemic), creating paper flowers and adding circuits to their crafts for a teacher retirement celebration.
Photo 2: Roblox field trip with girls asking questions to a panel of women in STEM.

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