Robin Walker, founder of Camp BYOC (Build Your Own Computer), Cincinnati, Ohio, knows what it’s like to be a woman and minority in the computer technology field. A retired IT executive from Proctor and Gamble, Robin has channeled her love for math into inspiring young women to consider computer careers. “We need to encourage students, especially young women, to stick with math and the opportunities in STEM,” she says. “I was a math major in college and fell in love with computers. But I was one of only a handful of women both in my university major and later my career.”
Royal Neighbors of America has named her organization a Nation of Neighbors℠ national grant recipient in 2020. “I am thrilled to accept this grant on behalf of the girls who, with additional scholarships, will now be able to attend our camps. Our mission is to encourage young people, especially minorities and underrepresented students, to get excited about technology and consider a potential career in computers,” Robin says. Since 2014, Camp BYOC has educated more than 200 young people with hands-on computer experience that has resulted in a number of students expressing excitement to further their education in specialized computer fields. Ages range from nine to 17 years.
Numerous studies show a shortage of women who are pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields such as computer science and engineering. From anatomically correct seat-belt design, to medical research identifying women’s unique symptoms for heart attacks that can differ from men, the ramifications of not having a woman’s needs considered in research and development are substantial.
“Women who serve on research and development teams, for example, make contributions and build solutions that reflect all women’s needs, whether it’s for product safety, medicine, or other scientific advancements,” explains Robin.
“We are honored to be able to support Cincinnati’s Camp BYOC,” says Juliet Christenson, Product Development Manager, Royal Neighbors of America. “Ms. Walker’s dedication to inspiring young people to reach their potential in tech careers is impressive and both students and our world will benefit from those young minds who strive to solve critical issues facing our society.”
Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that honors women leaders who are impacting the lives of women and girls. Each year, recipients are selected for an empowerment grant to support their work. To date, Royal Neighbors has awarded more than $2 million to women across the country.
For more information and program details, click here.