SPIRIT - Program Information for Industry

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Most Information Technology (IT) professionals are aware of the growing gender gap in IT. Declining interest in computing begins early in middle school, grows larger in college, and creates a situation where employers have great difficulty finding qualified young women to add to their IT teams.

The lack of gender diversity on IT design teams is likely to result in less creative solutions and has the potential for companies to develop products that appeal to only 50% of the target market. There are many of reasons that women shy away from computing. Of these, SPIRIT believes the following have the greatest negative impact:

  • Young women want careers that benefit society, but mistakenly believe that a career in IT cannot achieve that goal.
  • Many people mistakenly believe that the job prospects in IT are limited, especially for women.

Through generous funding by the National Science Foundation and additional support provided by several industry partners, SPIRIT will offer educational programs to high school teachers, high school guidance counselors, and high school students to begin to correct these long-held misconceptions and to share the many exciting career opportunities that exist for women who pursue a computing major in college.

An important element of all programs is illustrating the many, varied career opportunities for someone with computing skills. This will be accomplished through presentations made by individuals and groups of industry professionals who will describe how their work makes a positive difference. They will also share the types of jobs that exist in their organizations for young people equipped with computing skills. All participants will be able to ask specific questions or to initiate discussion on topics of personal interest.

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