Tech Support

iSchool ignites girls’ interest in tech

By Sistina Giordano

Photography by Kimberly Cook

1213 SU it girls edit DSC_7354On Nov. 10 and 11 approximately 100 high school women were part of an overnight retreat and hack-a-thon to celebrate their interest and potential in technology.

Syracuse University’s School of Information studies hosted the third annual It Girls Retreat, welcoming students from 52 high schools across the northeast.

iSchool recruitment specialist and event coordinator Dori Farah said the weekend-long event offered a way for high school girls to learn about technology education and careers through mentorship. Company representatives from JPMC, Facebook, SendGrid and Splunk were all on hand to offer retreaters some firsthand tech field advice.

“We have learned that the It Girls Overnight Retreat increases attendees’ confidence around, interest in and enthusiasm for technology,” Farah said. “They have the opportunity to connect with real-world role models, both at the current student and industry levels, which helps them imagine their own futures in the field. They realize that, not only can they participate in technology, they can lead with it and they can make a difference with it.”

1213 SU it girls edit DSC_7285Freshman Cailyn Lewis and sophomore McKenzie Miller are both Information Management and Technology majors and alums of the program last year. Lewis, who is from Austin Texas, heard about the event from her school guidance counselor and decided to take on the challenge. This year, she volunteered to host another student (retreat participants are hosted in residence halls with current students) and addressed the group about women and programming.

“We wanted to empower the girls and let them know that programmers aren’t just men in old lab coats,” she said. “It’s important for girls to see what other programmers look like and to see that they can do this, too.”

Miller was part of the first It Girls Retreat in 2011. This year she joined Lewis and volunteered as part of the event to give back to something that she said was very influential in her career path.

“It Girls gives [program participants] one-on-one time to talk and ask questions and have a big info session and see what it’s like to live on campus or in a dorm and learn about who we are,” Miller said. “It’s also a way for them to see that we’re not all just computer geeks. Some of the most amazing women I know are in information technology. It’s such a big world out there and they should always pursue whatever makes them happy.”

For more information about the It Girls Retreat, visit itgirls.ischool.syr.edu.

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