NCWIT K-12 ALLIANCE LAUNCHED TO REVERSE DECLINING PARTICIPATION OF GIRLS IN COMPUTING CAREERS
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) today unveiled the NCWIT K-12 Alliance, a new coalition formed to reverse the trend of fewer girls pursuing careers in computing fields. The Alliance is comprised of 19 organizations dedicated to making computing more accessible and attractive to girls, and is funded by Intel, Pfizer, and NCWIT.
The K-12 Alliance will work to improve the visibility of girls' contributions to computing and information technology, remove barriers to their participation in the field, advance the state of computing education at the K-12 level, and raise awareness that computational literacy enables success in many other careers.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that more than one million computing jobs will be added to the workforce by 2014. Yet surveys by the Higher Education Research Institute reveal an 80 percent decline in the number of incoming undergraduate women who indicate an interest in computer science between 1996 and 2005. Currently, according to the Department of Labor, only 26 percent of information technology workers in the U.S. are women.
"In the next seven years, women will account for more than half the nation's workforce. If U.S. companies wish to maintain their competitive advantage in IT-related fields, they cannot afford to miss out on the input of half the population. Women can, and must, play a more significant role in building an innovative and technically trained workforce," said Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT.
As its first project, the K-12 Alliance will release a new resource kit, "Gotta Have IT," a high-quality resource package of posters, career information, digital media, and more for teachers to use in the classroom. The kit will be distributed for free at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta, Georgia, June 24-27. While the kit was designed for use with both male and female students, it is especially inclusive of girls. Links to materials included in the kit will be available online at www.ncwit.org/ghit.
"We want girls to be more confident, aware and interested in computing; but even more so, we want girls to understand that a background in computer science is critical for 21st-century careers and for life in general," said Chris Stephenson, co-chair of the K-12 Alliance and executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association, a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science.
In addition to distributing the "Gotta Have IT" kit at NECC, the K-12 Alliance will inform conference attendees about this new coalition via speakers and participation in several workshops. The K-12 Alliance also is creating a permanent national networking system that connects the members of each K-12 Alliance organization to help distribute information across the country to educators, parents and other K-12 influencers.
"Women bring different life experiences and perspectives to the innovation process, and this diversity in innovation is what leads to the design of products and services that can benefit a broader range of people," said Ruthe Farmer, co-chair of the K-12 Alliance and technology and engineering education program manager for Girl Scouts of the USA. "It is imperative that we begin to speak to girls at a young age about the potential they hold to become future innovators and leaders."
K-12 Alliance member organizations include: American School Counselor Association, Association for Computing Machinery, The College Board, Computer Science Equity Alliance, Computer Science Teachers Association, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls, Inc., Georgia Institute of Technology, International Society for Technology in Education, National Center for Women & Information Technology, University of Oregon, National Girls Collaborative Project, Sally Ride Science and Tech Corps. For more information about the K-12 Alliance, please visit http://www.ncwit.org.
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About the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
NCWIT works aggressively to increase girls' and women's participation in information technology. NCWIT member institutions include Avaya, Bank of America, Catalyst, Cisco, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Georgia Tech, Google, Harvard, HP, Intel, IBM, Lehman Brothers, MIT, Microsoft, Motorola, the National Science Foundation, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Illinois UC, Pfizer, Princeton, QUALCOMM, Sally Ride Science, Spelman, Stanford, Sun, University of Colorado, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, University of Washington, Wal-Mart, and many more. Find out more at http://www.ncwit.org.
About the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), launched by ACM in 2005, is a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and the other computing disciplines by providing opportunities for K-12 teachers and students to better understand the computing disciplines and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and to learn. http://csta.acm.org. CSTA provides its over 400 members with resources, research, and professional development opportunities.
About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.6 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouting is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U [(800) 478-7248] or visit http://www.girlscouts.org.