How TechGirlz is Paving the Way for Women in Tech

Girl power in tech

Key Takeaways

  • TechGirlz is a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.
  • Through programs in over 60 tech topics, young girls can find their passion in tech and not be intimidated to pursue it. 
  • TechGirlz helps young girls interested in tech to find a sense of community.
A group of girls at a TechGirlz event.

TechGirlz

Not enough young girls are confident in choosing a career path in tech, but TechGirlz is trying to change those statistics. 

According to a study from the National Science Foundation, women only earn 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees and only 20% of engineering degrees in the US. And, while women make up 50% of the college-educated workforce, they only hold 28% of science and engineering positions.

TechGirlz is a nonprofit giving young girls the tools and the confidence to enter into the tech workforce, whatever that may look like for them. 

"Girls still have a preconceived idea of what working in tech means, and it involves sitting at a computer writing computer code all day," Gloria Bell, the events and marketing manager at TechGirlz, told Lifewire over the phone. 

"Too many girls still don’t understand the wide variety of opportunities in tech, and that no matter what their interests are, there is a place in tech for them."

Starting Them Young 

TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman got the idea for TechGirlz when she was working for a software development company, but wasn’t seeing many women coming through her application pipeline. 

"Too many girls still don’t understand the wide variety of opportunities in tech and that no matter what their interests are, there is a place in tech for them."

Bell said the reasons behind the limited amount of women in tech stem from their experiences at a young age, particularly at the middle-school level. 

"Up until middle school, girls’ and boys’ interest in tech was even, but a lot of the reasons behind girls’ interest dropping off was perceptions of what a career in tech would be," Bell said. 

"The mission behind TechGirlz is to try and help girls understand and break those preconceived notions." 

TechGirlz develops programs to educate and inspire young girls in all sorts of areas of technology. Bell said the organization creates the curriculum and the playbook, and anyone with knowledge of the covered areas can teach the programs to girls in their community. 

Bell said community groups, tech companies, girl scout troops, and others teach the tech programs, which range from beginner to advanced. TechGirlz has over 60 tech topics to choose from, including game design, designing mobile apps, podcasting, cybersecurity and internet safety, HTML and CSS, virtual reality, and more. 

"Girls who have discovered an interest, passion, and comfort level with not only using technology but creating it, will find greater success in whatever field they choose," Bell said. 

A female engineer oversees a female student learning in technology.

ThisisEngineering_RAEng / Unsplash

To date, TechGirlz has taught over 25,000 girls, including more than 8,000 during the pandemic when the programs shifted to virtual. 

Sense of Community 

Aside from providing education into the vast possibilities of the tech world, TechGirlz also is focused on providing young girls a sense of community in a field that can often feel lonely. 

"Part of what makes it difficult for a girl is when they walk into a tech class, and they are the only girl," Bell said. 

"When they come to one of our workshops and realize they aren't the only girls that like [tech], it helps them develop this sense of community and this sense of confidence." 

That sense of community doesn’t just end after a TechGirlz workshop, since the nonprofit also has a Teen Advisory Board and teen volunteers who continue to educate and mentor the younger girls entering the program. 

"It’s very rewarding to watch that spark of interest that started when they came to their first workshop continue on," Bell said. 

"Girls who have discovered an interest, passion, and comfort level with not only using technology but creating it, will find greater success in whatever field they choose."

One such TechGirlz participant, Lucy Minchoff, started the program as a middle schooler and continued as a Teen Advisory Board member to inspire the younger generation.

"Being in a room full of competent women was invigorating. They made me feel indestructible," Minchoff told Lifewire over email. 

"The reason I volunteer is to give girls that same feeling of strength and ambition that I received when I went to workshops."

Minchoff said she plans to major in environmental engineering at whatever college she ends up selecting, hopefully breaking the glass ceiling of women in engineering statistics. 

According to Bell, 82% of the participants in TechGirlz workshops said that they have changed their minds about a career in tech and are now more interested in pursuing those opportunities, marking a glimmer of hope in the future of women in tech. 

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