According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women only make up 25 percent of the computing work force.
In an effort to increase that number and encourage girls to explore careers in the technology field, a one-day "Tech Girls Rock" workshop is being held today at the Wilbert Davis/Belmont Heights Boys and Girls Club, 3515 Sarah Street.
The event, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., is a partnership between CA Technologies and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay. Employees from CA Technologies and HOT 101.5 will be on hand to talk about technological careers, facilitate group activities and serve as role models for about 100 girls between the ages of 10 and 16.
We talked to Erica Christensen, Director of Community Affairs for CA Technologies, about Tech Girls Rock and how the program began.
Patch: Can you explain Tech Girls Rock for those who don't know? Also, what ages of girls participate?
Christensen: In 2011, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) presented CA Technologies with a new partnership platform focused on girls in technology, and by year’s end, new partnership was announced in which BGCA and CA Technologies committed to empowering girls to explore a future in technology. The Tech Girls Rock initiative helps young women discover and cultivate an interest in information technology (IT), an interest that could ultimately lead to tech-related educational opportunities and careers.
Teen and tween girls, ages 10-16, have access to innovative and inspiring learning opportunities via Tech Girls Rock workshops. These workshops include career exploration panels with CA technology professionals who share their own experiences. Participants engage in discussions on key IT trends and topics, and participate in technology-focused challenges and projects designed to provide fun experiences that are hands-on, interactive, and intentionally develop critical thinking skills.
Tech Girls Rock workshops are full-day opportunities where tween and teen girl Tampa Club members interact with CA Technologies professionals, participate in career breakout sessions and hands-on technology projects and have fun! During each workshop, girls receive Tech Girls Rock branded tools and promotional items. These include a t-shirt, flash drive, mouse pad, backpack bag, and notebook and pen.
Patch: How did the Boys & Girls Club and CA Technologies partner for the event?
Christensen: This initiative evolved from a long-standing partnership between CA Technologies and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The program is a natural fit for both organizations as it incorporates two core philanthropic focus areas for CA Technologies: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and the Advancement of Women in IT, and is a key part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America‘s strategy aimed at ensuring all members graduate from high school on time, are equipped for a post-secondary education and a twenty-first century career.
Patch: How many years has the event been held in Tampa at that particular Boys/Girls Club?
Christensen: This is the first year for Tech Girls Rock to take place in Tampa Bay. Last year, CA Technologies and Boys and Girls Clubs of America held Tech Girls Rock events in New York, NY; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; and Plano, TX. Additional workshops will be held through July 2013 in cities including Bellevue, WA; Las Vegas, NV; New York, NY; Scottsdale, AZ; and Tampa, FL. The goal is to reach over 1,000 young women.
Patch: How was the Belmont Heights location chosen for this year's event?
Christensen: Tech Girls Rock events are chosen by where the Boys and Girls Clubs of America has a strong presence and where CA Technologies employees are able to participate in mentor-type projects. For this reason, CA Technologies and BGCA made a decision to host Tech Girls Rock at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa this year.
Patch: What do you hope the girls gain after leaving the event?
Christensen: We hope the girls are empowered to explore a potential future in technology as they learn from fun and interactive activities that will inspire them for their future. We also hope that the exposure of our IT professionals can offer them a perspective on the role of technology and give them guidance for those considering a career in the field. It is an invaluable learning experience for these young women.
In a study, 22 percent of the girls before the workshop had a high-level interest in a tech-related career and after the workshop 70 percent of the girls had a high-level interest in a tech-related career. This increase of interest in a career in technology is what we hope they gain at the Tampa Tech Girls Rock event.
Do you think more girls should get involved in technology-related careers? Tell us in the comments.