STEM

New Programs Aim to Help Girls, Women Attain Tech Training

A new award will help an organization dedicated to training females in technical fields expand its reach. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) recently received a $4.1 million grant from the Cognizant U.S. Foundation, a nonprofit that supports STEM education and skills initiatives for U.S. workers and students. NCWIT is an alliance of 1,100 universities, companies, nonprofits and government organizations working to increase the participation of girls and women in computing. Cognizant, the international company behind the foundation, sells technical and digital transformation consulting and services.

NCWIT said the funding will be dedicated to setting up digital skills education programs and an "awareness campaign" to spark interest among females of all ages in going after careers in technology. The organization will set up coding skills camps for girls and women and developing training programs for school counselors in underserved areas. The initial focus will be on the south and southeast, particularly in those communities that are near corporate job and internship opportunities and where existing training partners exist. Job placement will also be a part of the programming, as will participation from Cognizant's own workforce as mentors.

The nonprofit projected that by the end of 2019, the new programs will "directly benefit" 2,243 girls and women; by 2021, the training network will reach 13,000.

"As of 2017, women held only 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the United States," said NCWIT Co-founder and CEO Lucy Sanders, in a statement. "To close this gap and fill an estimated 3.5 million computing-related job openings expected by 2026, we must make computing education accessible to all and attract diverse talent to the discipline. In doing so, a vast population with growing needs for technological products and services will be more equally represented in the innovation process."

Sanders added that the new award will better equip the organization to "extend our reach and create sustained change at the local level."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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