Thirty 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls from Notre Dame School of Milwaukee will make a trip to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for CyberGirlz, a technology day camp hosted on the university’s campus and sponsored by Northwestern Mutual. The day-long program on Friday, Oct. 7 offers middle school girls interested in computer technology an opportunity to work collaboratively through a hands-on experience in a college environment.
“We need more students to take an interest in technology as companies become more digitally savvy,” said Irissol Arce, Northwestern Mutual assistant director of community outreach. “CyberGirlz addresses that by focusing on girls, a largely unrepresented group in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and by creating an opportunity for students to work in cross-functional teams.”
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM-related jobs. Additionally, the percentage of women earning computer science and engineering degrees has decreased over the last few decades.
Arce added that as companies work to become more digitally savvy and culturally diverse, engaging students earlier in their educational journey is a must.
“Our students are excited for this opportunity to visit a college campus and learn from university instructors, students and IT professionals,” said Steve Hasbrook, president of Notre Dame School of Milwaukee. “Providing programs for students while they are in middle school, when they’re still open to new things, fuels their interest and helps them make class choices that prepare them for more advanced work later on.”
Northwestern Mutual’s sponsorship of CyberGirlz is just one piece of the company’s commitment to advancing STEM education at all grade levels. In June, the company hosted more than a dozen high school students from across the region in a three-week-long technology camp where students worked side-by-side with Northwestern Mutual’s technology experts to see how technology is planned, funded, developed and eventually delivered in a large corporate setting.
The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater started the CyberGirlz camp in the summer of 2008. In addition to CyberGirlz, the university holds an annual overnight camp for 9th and 10th grade girls called CyberHigh.
For more information on the camps, visit http://www.uww.edu/techcamps, or contact Dr. Christina Outlay at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on the middle school camps, and Dr. Alana Platt at email@example.com for information on the high school summer camps.