Susan Galer, a contributor for Medium and brand contributor for Forbes, sat down with TechGirlz National Outreach Manager, Amy Cliett, at the recent SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference. Susan shares how TechGirlz and another like non-profit organization she talked with are “using targeted education to explode the scrum of misconceptions holding young girls back from pursuing STEM careers.” The full article was originally published June 27, 2018 on Medium.
Smashing stereotypes is all in a day’s work [and that is exactly what TechGirlz is doing!]
Tech is cool and fun
TechGirlz is laser-focused on middle-school girls because that’s when many children decide on their careers.
“Educational programs have typically tried to recruit girls after high school, but grades six to eight are where the serious break actually happens,” said Amy Cliett, National Outreach Manager of TechGirlz. “High school girls have already decided what they want to be for a variety of reasons, including conversations with family members and peers, and other societal pressures. Boys fall off at that level too, but girls at a much more alarming rate. We want to get the message out that tech is cool and fun so they can see the different opportunities for them.”
While educational support for younger girls is nowhere near what it needs to be, each organization has found ways to multiply program impact. Many TechGirlz workshop participants return as volunteers when they’re in high school, sometimes developing their own curriculum, and using the agency as a reference for internships. Often there’s a cascading impact across families, as inspired parents get involved after seeing their daughter’s experience. Techbridge Girls is replicating its high-touch program with a 12-week elementary school training in-a-box. Teachers can deliver it themselves, reaching more girls in more school districts. TechGirlz also has expansion plans for major cities nationwide.
Only girls allowed
All-girls programs like these make students less self-conscious about trying, failing and figuring things out, something core to success in high tech. “Survey feedback from girls ranges from the very sweet, I didn’t think I could do this and I can, to I was told by my teacher not to go into robotics, and now I think I should,” said Cliett.
If you happen to be a young girl or care about one, it’s impossible not to be inspired.