Organization helps local girls look at future careers in technology

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COLUMBUS - A group working to encourage more women to take on careers involving technology is now focused on urging young girls to do the same.

Women In Tech launched a youth program to expose girls as young as 10-years-old to explore work involving STEM skills.

A few dozen young girls from around Central Ohio joined the pilot class on the campus of The Ohio State University. The girls heard from guest speakers and talked about a variety of topics including education, personal confidence, and how technology and social media can impact their future. The children were encouraged to soak in information, statistics and lessons. They also had the opportunity to ask questions of several guest speakers.

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"At first I was like 'yay! A chance to get out of school!' But it turned out to be much more than that. I learned so much stuff. We talked about cyberbullying and how people online are always making fun of people and how we need to stand up for ourselves and sometimes how women underestimate themselves and they don't stand up for what they do believe in," said 11-year-old Gianna Santos. "I was glad to join the Women In Tech talks."

Columbus Women in Technology is a non-profit organization with the specific mission of addressing the declining number of women in the information systems and computing industries through programs that promote awareness, address attrition, create opportunities to transition to tech, and preparation for leadership.

"The young ladies in our youth track were so smart and very aware of the gender inequities that exist in their day-to-day lives. They asked me some challenging questions that just don't have easy answers. They asked questions like: 'Why do girls have to work twice as hard as boys to get the same things? Why do girls always have to be perfect and boys just have to be mediocre? Why are their so many stereotypes for girls in our society?', and the best one was 'What should we do about the macro-discrimination that occurs all of the time, like when boys just assume we don't like sports?'," said Executive Advisor Terri Bettinger.

Co-founder & President of Women in Tech Angela Lopez said the conference and the youth track program were successful. She said there are plans to continue the program and anyone interested in signing up their child should reach out to her organization.