AUSTIN – While more women are entering the workplace, the tech industry has continued to be mostly male dominated. A 2016 study from the National Center for Women and Information Technology reports women only held about a quarter of computing occupation jobs in 2015.
A national nonprofit organization is trying to change that statistic by introducing high school girls to the tech industry and encouraging them to pursue technology-based careers. ChickTech has over 20 chapters across the country, including one in Central Texas. This weekend was ChickTech High School’s kickoff.
“We accept 100 girls who come in and they get to spend the entire weekend working on hands on tech projects,” ChickTech Austin Director Nicole Baratta said.
These Central Texas students come from diverse backgrounds and are nominated by their teachers to participate. The projects range from building a computer to game level design and robotics. High school sophomore Joanna Estes and her team learned how to make a film.
“It’s difficult and easy at the same time because every person has their different strong suits and weaknesses,” Estes said.
Before this weekend, Estes said she planned on cosmetology school after high school. Now, she’s considering a career in digital filmmaking.
“Given this experience, it’s definitely a top contender,” she said.
Getting more women in tech is ChickTech’s goal.
“I’ve been working in tech for 15 years and the majority of the people I work with are men,” Baratta said.
“Most females doubt themselves about their intelligence and females shouldn’t doubt themselves,” high school student Eriyion Johnson said. “Anybody can do tech. I did it in 48 hours so anybody can do it. It’s just a fun experience.”