Sara Neiman, TechGirlz’ Chicagoland Outreach Coordinator, was interviewed by Jalyssa Woodall, a Digital Marketing Specialist at Gate 39 Media, to celebrate Women’s History Month and speak about the vision behind TechGirlz. TechGirlz first came about when the founder, Tracey Welson-Rossman, wanted to fight the gender disparity in technology by inspiring younger girls with the possibilities of technology. This mission led TechGirlz to provide middle school girls with role models, hands-on learning, and a strong community that will continuously inspire them to pursue technology. In the interview, Sara also talks about the transition to strictly virtual activities due to the pandemic, which allowed the company to grow their outreach nationwide. The company has also expanded its virtual environment with programs such as TechPodz, TechGirlz Talks, and an improved Teen Advisory Board. The company continues to show girls all around the nation that they have a bright future in tech. The full article was originally published March 18th, 2021 on Engine 39 Blog.
How did the idea of TechGirlz come about?
As the only woman executive at a software development company, TechGirlz founder and now board member, Tracey Welson-Rossman, was well aware of the gender disparity in tech. In discussions with other women in tech and review of research, she realized that a focus needed to be made on girls at the middle school grade levels. These girls needed to not just be taught to code, but they needed to be inspired by all the possibilities that technology could offer them now and in the future. The tech community also needed to be engaged as role models by serving as instructors and mentors. The girls needed to experience, through hands-on learning activities, all of the different aspects of tech, whether it is coding, design, or any of the many other fields that involve technology.
What advice do you have for young ladies who are thinking of a career in tech?
My advice is to try everything and be open to being creative! As a young girl, I never even heard of technology except for typing and coding. If you are not sure about tech, that is okay. I wish I had programs to help me explore tech as a girl, but those programs did not exist. If you are not sure about heavy tech programs or workshops, start slow with web designing, photography, or app design. These programs do not necessarily require coding, and you can still utilize your creative side to make these projects come to life. Also, get involved in a tech club or program like TechGirlz so you can learn with other girls your age. Sometimes tech can be intimidating but having your peers help and support you can give you the push you need to feel encouraged in a new space.