For a number of years now, the GECDSB has partnered with IBM to deliver a Women in Technology program to students in Grades 7 and 8. This program has been offered apparently for quite a while in the Toronto area. The premise is simple; a group of IBM female employees descend upon an elementary school and work with the intermediate girls. There are a number of activities involved from an awareness of computers in society, to their development, to famous women in the field, to careers, to developing a web page, to doing some work with character. It’s an exciting concept.
But, you don’t have the same number of women in places away from Toronto.
In Greater Essex County, we modify the program by inviting women who use technology in their jobs from the community to host the session instead. The session is lead by our local IBM representative but we include women from municipal government, education, and local industries to work as mentors. The partnership is almost magical. All of a sudden, the young ladies make an immediate bond with their mentor as they work together on the activities. At the culmination, each group introduces their mentor to the rest of the group as they present their web page efforts.
Where are the boys?
It’s a perfect opportunity for the school to work on boys’ literacy initiatives. Educationally, everyone wins.
While one session isn’t going to change the world, at least the young ladies leave with an awareness of the opportunities and that this field isn’t a closed shop to them.
The number of women entering university and college studying computer science and mathematics is alarmingly low.
It’s not just a Canadian issue. It’s noticeable on a global scale. We all need to make the area of computers and computer technologies available and SEEN TO BE available by alll students
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