DigiGirlz is a Microsoft YouthSpark program for high school girls that is intended to give them a chance to learn about careers in high tech, to meet women currently working in different roles in high tech and to take classes or attend camps to give them that exposure.
The Redmond, Washington camp was held this week on the Microsoft campus and I spent quite a bit of time volunteering.
I’ve had the benefit of growing up with parents that really didn’t worry about gender roles in careers so I was encourage to do just about anything I could or wanted to. I was the only girl in our school computer club, the only girl in the physics class, etc. Although it felt weird at the time that other girls weren’t more interested in the math and science subjects, I never really felt “un-girlie”.
This is still not the norm, though. And mentoring or speaking to girls about careers in high tech and the fun of math and science is something I try to do whenever I get the chance.
This year I think we had about 110 girls attending the camp. There were three days packed with activities that seemed to be enjoyed by the attendees. I think my favorite parts where when I had spontaneous chances to just chat to one or two girls at a time, tell them about my background and what I’ve done through my career and then encourage them to look at what they like to do. I gave my email out a couple of times and told them that if they got the permission of a parent, they were free to email me and we could chat about career or other subjects further.
I also had a great chance to meet a representative of the local Girl Scouts and chat with her about what girls need in the way of mentoring and encouragement as well as what she thinks has changed since the time we were kids.
A great three days spent and I am only more and more interested in mentoring and helping others grow, regardless of gender. Maybe this is more evidence of my interest in teaching.
If you want more information on DigiGirls, you can find it on this Microsoft website.