Colleges Should Recruit Tech Girls like Athletes
The number of high school girls thinking about careers in technology has been steadily declining. If you have read my past articles, there are many reasons for this: lack of tech classes at the high school level, scarcity of role models, few courses of interest to the girls…the list goes on and on.
Over the past 7 years, TechGirlz has been working to change and break this cycle. We’ve worked hard to lay the foundation for a Path to a tech career that starts even earlier in middle school. By showing girls that technology can be fun and interesting, we can show them ttech can be a part of their future career choice. We also hope to help parents understand the opportunities available in the industry, whether in a specific role like a software engineer or using technology as an innovation tool.
Even with our programs in place, we find there are still potholes in place that can slow down or divert girls on the Path to a career in tech. High school can be a challenging environment to deliver the support and tools these girls are looking for. So we began to ask why not work at the college level to extend the Path downward and help pull (versus push) more of these along.
We know that colleges recruit star athletes from a very early age. And that many actively recruit star students beginning in high school. Why not work with colleges and universities to help them specialize in recruiting star technologists?
We’re already working to give middle school girls access to college campuses. A number of influential women in college computing or engineering programs were early supporters of our TechShopz in a Box program, opening the door to on-campus workshops. The girls and their families loved the ability to see a campus earlier than usual and to understand what a college level tech program might involve.
So now we’re taking this one step further to engage the college administration directly. If we’re already bringing interested girls to campus multiple times a year for instruction, why not create stronger bonds for support and recruiting throughout high school. That’s the goal of our new partnership with Drexel University.
Beginning next year, we will track interactions of the girls, their parents and Drexel to understand the motivations and opportunities for reinforcing a tech career path. We already have basic insights, such as girls’ general lack of interest in traditional competitions and hackathons, and their desire for role models and networking. By capturing similar data points and learnings in the context of a campus experience, we can work with universities like Drexel to institutionalize programs directed at interested girls.
This robust and professional recruitment system exists We do this training for athletes today. Let’s start doing the same for our young technologists.