CompTIA launches program to encourage girls to pursue IT skills

There's concern from a growing chorus of voices about the often vanishingly small presence of women in IT careers. Men have such a looming presence in disciplines like programming, computer networking, data storage and just about anything else grounded in IT that even the few women who start out in technology fields often don't stick around very long. Many observers think the problem has roots in childhood, where girls often veer away from the so-called STEM (science, technology, math, engineering) disciplines.

Whatever it is that's causing the imbalance, leading IT industry association CompTIA wants to reverse the trend by reaching out to women and drawing them into IT's embrace. In particular, CompTIA is focusing is making a big push in its new recruitment effort to attract girls and teens. That's the impetus behind two new websites the group has launched, the Advancing Women in IT Career Resource Center site and the Advancing Women in IT Dream IT site. The sites aren't designed for girls themselves: The call to action is to other IT professionals who need ideas or resources to join in the effort.

A big part of the problem, as CompTIA sees it, is that girls often don't get the same push to technology that boys do. CompTIA senior vice president Nancy Hammervik said in a press release that girls are often not informed of the range of options IT holds for them. "When they're exposed to specific job and career opportunities their interest level jumps," Hammervik said. "We've taken the next step to reach out directly to women and girls on the wonderful opportunities available to them in our industry."

The Dream IT site encourages IT professionals to get involved by speaking to groups of girls at schools, club, or in other venues. Along with its call to action, the site provides materials, including slideshows, handouts, videos and more, to help spread the message. Dream IT is also a point of contact for teachers, career counselors and other who want to request a Dream IT speaker or presentation.

Additional resources are available at the Career Resource Center site, which features stories contributed by CompTIA members of exciting and interesting work in IT fields, contact information for other groups involved in the effort, and tips to help women and girls sharpen their IT skills. There's also a detailed section of the site to help women and girls get information about specific IT career paths.

Doriana Allyn, director of CompTIA's Advancing Women in IT Community, said that woman who already have IT careers who are leading the charge behind the two sites, contributing their professional insights and other resources to building up a portal for women and girls interested in entering the IT world. "These remarkable women have poured their hearts and souls into an initiative that creates a moment of �I can' for the next generation by helping girls and women set off on their own career journeys," Allyn said.

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