Middle School: A Gateway for Girls in Tech
August 8, 2017
Joy Baer, is the President for leading advertising technology software provider, Strata, at the Chicago headquarters. Joy and her team recently hosted the TechGirlz Podcasting workshop at the Strata offices in Chicago and shared some insight about the exciting experience! She also talks about her love for technology, which started in middle school, her role in the field today, and how she believes giving young girls more opportunities for exposure in the various fields of technology can help close the gender gap. The full article was originally published in the Company News section on Strata’s corporate website.
I came across one possible and simple solution [to the gender gap in the career field of technology] this past Saturday at a TechGirlz event we hosted at Strata’s headquarters in Chicago. We hosted a “Podcasting 101” workshop (one of the many formats available at TechShopz in a Box™) for a group of 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls. I marveled as their eyes lit up when they put big headphones over their ears and heard their own recorded voices through the computer. They were hooked and got very excited to mix and edit their own podcasts.
I credit a large portion of our event’s success to the fact that we hosted middle school girls who are still at a tender age and susceptible to a good impression. I have high school children and couldn’t imagine that workshop generating the same level of excitement in them.
I realized that in order to address the broader issue of the gender gap in coding and engineering, we need to expose girls to technology learning experiences at the right time. That means early exposure while they are young, which will provide girls with a gateway to exploring new technologies. The right start helps push them in the right direction, just like that first time I started exploring on that Apple II.
The Girls Who Code/Accenture study found evidence to support this idea. Of women working in computing, 74% were exposed to coding in middle school. In fact, the CEO of Girls Who Code said, “We want to over-invest in middle school.” The study suggested fun activities like computer games to get girls interested. From personal experience, I couldn’t agree more.