IT is for Girls
In 2009, former UNC Greensboro Information Systems professor Dr. Lakshmi Iyer started summer IT is for Girls workshops at UNCG because she wanted to increase the number of girls and women pursuing technology-based and STEM education and careers.
She had seen that the number of female students in computing and IT, in higher education and in the workforce, was declining, and she wanted to change that. Her goal was to to give young women more opportunity to engage with emerging technology and to show them that IT activities could be collaborative, creative and fun.
Iyer partnered with several organizations who supported this initiative, including the Association of Information Systems, National Center for Women in IT, American Association of University Women – Greensboro Branch, Guilford County Schools and businesses in Triad and beyond.
Within a few years, workshops expanded to a full-week camp and over the next few years, Iyer adjusted the camp to serve middle school girls, with high school girls volunteering at the camp as peer mentors. In 2012, Lincoln Financial Group provided generous funding to support IT is for Girls, ensuring UNCG could continue to host the camp, which had already made a significant impact on increasing technological literacy for girls in Guilford County and surrounding areas.
During the week at IT is for Girls, campers and mentors work with robotics, mobile application development, animation, the Internet of Things and the creation of video games. They learn about marketing technology, digital arts and even the role of IT in community service. The campers also engage their critical thinking skills through exploration of socioeconomic issues and ways technology can influence them. They have a positive experience on UNCG’s campus, learn about resources such as Jackson Library’s Digital Media Commons and make valuable connections with peers and mentors.
Iyer hears news from camp alumni who are studying at Ivy League colleges, working for NASA and leading robotics programs.
“At IT is for Girls, they begin to understand that computing is pervasive,” says Iyer. “It’s in every business and field. And their creative ways of addressing problems is what’s so impressive.”
Iyer and co-director Aprille Black observe that girls who attend the camp see more options for their future education and careers, with greater knowledge of IT and how it relates to the world. For many of them, IT and STEM fields become their passions, and they also become mentors to younger girls and women throughout their lives.
“This camp fits right in with UNCG’s history,” says Black. “We expand opportunity, and that changes lives.”
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, Donor Relations
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