A new generation of girls will soon be exposed to a variety of tech-related educational and career opportunities thanks to Tech Girls Rock, a new program announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative. The project, spearheaded by Boys & Girls Clubs of America and IT management software and solutions giant CA Technologies, wants to take the nerd factor away from technology while educating girls in 10 cities about the opportunities available in the field.
The lack of women in tech is a well known issue, but the disparity is particularly jarring because women have made up the majority of college students since the early 1980s and have earned more college degrees since 1996. Russell M. Artzt, vice chairman and co-founder of CA Technologies, says his company made the decision to donate $1 million to the initiative because companies are “finding a huge scarcity of females in technology, particularly in computer science.”
Artzt says he frequently works with college students and estimates that only 10 percent of the computer science students he interacts with are female. “It’s not enough,” he says. “so we need to start early with encouraging girls to get interested in tech.” And because getting girls hooked on technology “when they’re still at an age when they’re still impressionable” is key, the program will target girls between the ages of 9 and 13.
Artzt says CA Technologies has been involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s educational programs over the past several years, so partnering with them on Tech Girls Rock was a natural step. And, the company isn’t just cutting a check. CA Technologies’ employees will be directly involved in running the workshops. In an effort to transform technology education from a dry, academic experience to one that’s exciting, hands-on, and interactive, the workshops will also feature fun tech-focused challenges and projects. CA Technologies’ employees will serve as ongoing role models and mentors to the girls that participate.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of the initiative, participants will take pre- and post-workshop attitude surveys to “demonstrate whether there is a positive shift” toward studying and pursuing tech fields. The first workshop kicks off in Harlem in January.