Date: Jul 14, 2000 5:33 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: Attracting girls to technolgy

From the Chicago Tribune, Monday, July 10, 2000, Secton 4 /
Business-Technology, p. 2.



By Nushin Huq
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas -- In an apartment building near the University of
Texas, 24 bubbly high school and junior high school girls chatter in
a conference room-turned-computer lab.

They sit in front of the borrowed computers that line the walls, each
meticulously printing her name and e-mail address on 15 business
cards. Later, as a lesson in networking, they'll swap cards with
female high-tech executives at dinner.

They're participating in a weeklong computer camp, sponsored by and, that's designed to help encourage
girls, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to develop
proficiency with computers. The program costs $860 a week, but
scholarships are available.

The goal of the camp is to nudge girls toward the technology field.

"After coming here, I'm thinking about doing something in technology,
since you use computers for everything now," said Melinda Hipolito,
13, from Del Valle, Texas.

In the new technology society, computer camps are an alternative to
traditional summer fare - networking sessions have replaced
campfires, and Web-design classes have replaced arts and crafts. The
morning hikes have taken just that, but the girls can still exert
their youthful energy in a midday kick-boxing session.

The attendees all have a different working knowledge of
computers--there is no experience prerequisite--but all have had at
least some exposure through their schools.

"I've only really used computers before for writing papers, going on
the Internet and playing games," said Ariel Brown, 14, who lives in
Austin and is home-schooled. "I've learned a lot here. I'd like to
learn more about Microsoft Office, such as how to use Power Point."

"We wanted to help further girls in technology," said AllGirlPlanet
spokeswoman Becky Holcomb. "We plan to keep in touch with these girls
to see how they progress, and we encourage girls to return next year
and help teach the newer girls."

In a sector that has been traditionally male-dominated, there is a
growing push to get girls interested in technology at a younger age.
It's often through programs such as Girlstart, Giga Gals and Women in
Engineering camps. Women in Technology International, an organization
for established women in technology, is a supporter of the computer

But even people involved with the camps question the merits of
girls-only clubs.

"Sometimes I think it might be better to reserve a certain number of
spots for girls in the Ace co-ed camps rather than having a camp just
for girls," said Giovanna Morrow, academic director of the UT
AllGirlPlanet camp. "Because in the real world, these girls are going
to have to interact with men, and you don't learn how to do that in
an all-female environment."

But the girls did not seem to mind the lack of male counterparts.
Most agreed that when they came, they just wanted to make friends and
learn the ins and outs of technology.

And maybe flaunt it a little.

"I'm excited about going home and showing my brother how much I
learned," said Amanda Tawater, 14, from Cedar Park High School. "I
know more than him now."
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)