SARASOTA, Fla. (May 2, 2018) – Three University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee professors have received a $10,000 grant to create a summer workshop aimed at encouraging high school girls to pursue computer science and information technology careers.
Dr. Giti Javidi, Dr. Ehsan Sheybani and Dr. Lila Rajabion, recipients of the grant, will use the funds to create a free workshop for 9th and 10th grade girls from schools within 30 miles of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
The grant, supported by Microsoft, comes from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a non-profit community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits and government organizations nationwide that work to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing.
“These seed fund programs leverage effective recruitment strategies to attract women to computing,” NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders said. “Ultimately, increasing women’s participation will lead to a more innovative and competitive technology workforce.”
The professors applied for the grant last fall and learned in March their application had been approved for funding. Their workshop, “Raising Techie Girls,” is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the USFSM campus. Attendees will learn about computer coding and programming. The event will be the first of several Saturday workshops.
“Our hope is that by doing these activities we can help girls build confidence in their abilities so they will be inspired, motivated and prepared to pursue a career in computer science or information technology,” Dr. Javidi said.
Dr. Javidi, an assistant professor of information technology, said that social and cultural attitudes often dissuade girls from pursuing careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In the U.S. in 2016, women earned 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, but they earned only 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computing and engineering (www.ncwit.org/bythenumbers).
By holding the workshops, Dr. Javidi hopes to encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers. The workshop will be open to 20 girls. Additionally, a teacher from each participating school will be invited, as well as 20 parents (or guardians). Having teachers and parents attend will create a supportive network for the girls, Dr. Javidi said.
“What parents say or do can influence how their daughters see themselves and their ability to succeed in a STEM career,” she said. “A Google study on what influences women to pursue computer science shows that simple encouragement from family members, particularly mothers, can drive a girl’s interest in STEM.
“We cannot truly raise awareness about the importance of STEM, if we, as educators and parents, do not all work together,” Dr. Javidi said. “It would basically be impossible if we do not come together as a community.”
Registration for the free workshop is open through May 30, unless it is filled before the deadline. To register or to learn more visit, csithub.org/raising-techie-girls.
To learn more about IT and computer science programs at USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu/academics/programs-and-majors/undergraduate/information-technology/index.aspx.