UC Trains Young Women in New Technologies

By: Laura Muenchen, Liz Daubenmire & Ashley Duvelius

UC will host Microsoft’s DigiGirlz event on October 24, 2014. This will be the first time the free one-day event for high school girls has been held in Cincinnati.

The ACM-W executive board from left to right are: Angela Holley (Vice President- CS major), Valerie Barr (National ACM-W President), Priya Chawla (President - CS major), Jen French (Recruitment and Outreach Chair - CS major) and Kathryn Dew (Treasurer, EE/CE major).

The ACM-W executive board from left to right are: Angela Holley (Vice President- CS major), Valerie Barr (National ACM-W President), Priya Chawla (President - CS major), Jen French (Recruitment and Outreach Chair - CS major) and Kathryn Dew (Treasurer, EE/CE major).

“Computer systems analysts and software developers are among the top five professions expected to have the greatest numeric job growth over the next five years.”* In support of the ever-increasing demand for tech jobs—and more importantly, the demand for women in these jobs—Microsoft is bringing its DigiGirlz event to Cincinnati for the first time on October 24, 2014. The University of Cincinnati will host this free, one-day program in the Stratford Heights Pavilion from 8 am-noon and then in Old Chem 805 from noon-2 pm.

DigiGirlz is a nationally-known opportunity provided by Microsoft that allows high school girls a chance to learn about careers in technology.  Microsoft organizes DigiGirlz in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati’s new student chapter of ACM-W (Association for Computing Machinery - Committee on Women) that is a partner organization to the Association for Computing Machinery.  Additionally, ACM-W has the support of UC Provost Beverly Davenport, who will be speaking at the event. 

ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.  ACM delivers resources that advance computing as a science and as a profession.  ACM provides the computing field's premier Digital Library.  This Digital library serves its members and the computing profession with leading-edge publications, conferences, and as a career resource.

Priya Chawla, a student and President of the ACM-W chapter at University of Cincinnati learned of the DigiGirlz event.  Chawla stated “I was excited to hear about the world-wide event, DigiGirlz sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and wanted to ensure that we hosted the event at the University of Cincinnati to increase the pipeline of women enrolled in computing majors (Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology, Information Systems, Information Technology, Mathematics, Telehealth Systems) in our university through the ACM-W.”

Chawla’s passion to get women involved is very encouraging for UC.  Chawla states “As a current woman in computing, I am extremely passionate and excited about the entire university's support for our student organization to thrive. I am also thankful to CEAS for creating an environment where students are allowed to help solve issues, such as the low number of women in computing.”

DigiGirlz provides planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations.  Students will get the experience of hands-on computer and technology workshops with Microsoft employees and managers to gain exposure to careers in business technology.  These students will also get an insiders view on what it would be like to work for a technology and computing company like Microsoft or one of the hundreds of technology operations, large and small alike, positioned in the tri-state.

DigiGirlz and the ACM-W chapter both align with UC’s continuous commitment to encourage high school students to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. As a key part of this mission, the University of Cincinnati’s Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Mathematics and Science (CEEMS) program equips middle and high school science and math teachers with better strategies to engage students in math and science through engineering challenges.

The Microsoft team stated, “In our rapidly changing, hyper-connected world, the information and communication technology (ICT) industry is driving economic growth, innovation, and job creation. More than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills—and some experts say that will increase to 77 percent in the next decade—but many of the world’s youth don’t have the skills for these roles and will be unable to fill these jobs.”

The ICT industry not only has a high demand for qualified individuals but also a demand for a more diversified workforce.  In STEM fields, women earn thirty three percent more than women in non-STEM jobs.  Women have a fourteen percent wage gap in STEM, as opposed to a twenty one percent wage gap outside of STEM.** Yet the harsh reality remains that only 24% of STEM workers are women and an underwhelming 13% of young girls say they actually plan to pursue a career in STEM fields.***

Through the combined dedication of UC, Microsoft and ACM, hopefully we can tip the scales for girls and young women in STEM careers in the very near future. 

Those interested in attending the free event should register online at Microsoft.  Microsoft accepts high school girls on a first-come, first-served basis who are currently attending high school.  Please use the contact information provided on the website Microsoft or send an email stating name, city, state and name of high school to msgirlz@microsoft.com.  All students attending the event need to sign a general release and media release forms.


*”Efforts rise to increase high-skill talent pool” by Josh Pichler, The Cincinnati Enquirer
**”Paving the Way for More Women in STEM” by Akhila Satish, forbes.com
***” Million Women Mentors Launched to Fill the Gap of Women in STEM Fields” by Katherine Beard, usnews.com