TechGirlz Becomes a NSA Day of Cyber Partner to Inspire Young Girls to Explore Careers in Cybersecurity

TechGirlz Becomes a NSA Day of Cyber Partner to Inspire Young Girls to Explore Careers in Cybersecurity

Techgirlz, founded by Tracey Welson-Rossman, whose mission is to inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers, is excited to partner with the NSA Day of Cyber initiative to educate middle school girls about the exciting opportunities in the Cybersecurity field through the NSA Day of Cyber program.

Tracey Welson-Rossman, CMO of Chariot Solutions, saw a problem at her company 12 years ago as they tried to hire Java and open source software developers – there were no women who were applying for the job openings being posted. She did not understand why more women were not pursuing these jobs which had great pay, schedule flexibility and were interesting and challenging.

After talking to people in the industry and colleagues at universities, she came to understand there was a steep drop in women matriculating into Computer Science majors. She conducted more research and she found studies which showed girls were self selecting out of technology studies at around 9th grade. She decided to set out to try and change middle school girls’ view of technology and careers before they decided it wasn’t for them. Overlay this issue of very little diversity in the industry with the growing workforce needs of the technology industry, and non-tech industry’s need for technology-proficient employees, she saw this as a problem needing to be solved!

Being in the software industry, Tracey set out to work with her network to craft a solution. An early advisory board conducted more research about the programs out there and to also learn more about what girls were thinking around tech. It took a year of planning and the first TechShopz took place in September, 2009. Based on the research and feedback, it was decided the best way for having the girls learn was from people in the industry who could teach short, interactive lessons.This way girls could see not only what real people in the industry looked like, but unlike other programs, the instructor would spend a small amount of time talking about what they did in their “day jobs”. In addition, the workshops would concentrate more on making tech fun and accessible. Each lesson would have some sort of project, as the girls had told the TechGirlz team, they wanted to “play” with the tech.

The first Techshopz was a smashing success. 26 girls spent the day with us. We had 5 more TechShopz that first year.

TechGirlz has grown a lot in the last 5 years. To enable TechGirlz to reach as many girls as possible, it was decided to put the TechShopz into a lesson plan format so others could teach girls anywhere so they could get the chance to learn more about tech. They are called Techshopz in a Box because TechGirlz likes to think of our volunteer instructors opening up this “virtual box” which is loaded with the lesson plan and a playbook with instructions on how to run a class. The Techshopz in a Box lesson plans are posted on our website in our topics library and are free for anyone to use.

To date, TechGirlz has 37 different TechShopz in a Box in our library. There is a range of topics because we know that technology is not just about coding. We even have one on Encryption and will be adding two new cyber TechShopz to our library in the fall.

Recently, a parent sent TechGirlz this note about our programs: “My daughter never wants to miss a TechGirlz class. She has done many science extracurriculars, a member of the Duke TIP program, and spent her summer at the NC School of Science and Math- unabashedly thinks this is the best program she has ever done. I’m not sure if I ever fully communicated my appreciation to the staff there- I don’t know how they offer the classes for free- but this is an amazing group and I’m grateful she is part of it!”

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