News

Women in Technology Bridge the Talent Gap

5/20/2013
Interactive Technology
IDD is excited to announce the launch of ITPathways.org, as part of an outreach project designed to engage communities to support women in information technology (IT) careers.  The website was developed for the Appalachian Information Technology Extension Services (AITES) project at Virginia Tech. The website targets communities in rural areas of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee where research has shown girls tend to disregard IT fields as a potential career path as a result of preconceived notions, stereotypes, and lack of support from those around them.  

The cornerstone of the website is an interactive game centered around careers in IT.  The game presents a virtual “bike ride” during which the rider is presented with a series of "challenges" designed to informally assess potential skills, interests, and preferences that are important across many IT careers.  The game is designed to encourage self-reflection and discovery of skills and preferences girls may not even be aware they have.  At the end of the journey, the results include a sampling of potential IT careers as well as links to local employers, educational programs, and video interviews with "real women" role models who hold these careers. 

The AITES project is led by Dr. Peggy Meszaros, Director of the Center for Information Technology Impacts on Children, Youth, and Families at Virginia Tech.  It is funded through a grant from the National Science 
Interactive Technology Challenge
Foundation (GSE/EXT 0832913).   The AITES team works with teachers, school counselors, Family and Consumer Science and 4H agents in a "train-the-trainer" model to educate communities about the wide ranges of IT jobs in their local area, overcoming gender stereotypes, and different ways to support girls' interests toward successful futures in the IT world. "There's nothing wrong with the girls." said Meszaros. "They have as much interest, ability, and access as boys their age. What is lacking is encouragement from those around them and knowledge of local opportunities." Packed with Best Practices and resources for educators and employers to develop similar programs in other areas, the project is an excellent example of our region's efforts to fill the gap in the IT talent crisis. 

To learn more about IDD, Inc. and our interactive experience, click here. 

For more information on the AITES project at Virginia Tech, click here and to check out their website visit itpathways.org.
 



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