Southeastern women in tech: $4.1 million dollar initiative launched in Birmingham. Why it’s important

Young women can have fun and make friends while learning tech.
Young women having fun while learning. Photo from Tech Birmingham’s Facebook page

Southeastern women in tech got a huge shot in the arm yesterday. Thanks to the Cognizant U.S. Foundation and the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT), new opportunities are coming. By 2022, over 13,000 girls and women throughout the Southeast will benefit from new tech skills development opportunities. New skills, peer networks and support lead to new job opportunities.

Who’s behind this new initiative?

The Cognizant US Foundation is helping to increase the number of Southeastern women in tech.

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation, a New Jersey-based multinational tech corporation, launched the non-profit Cognizant U.S. Foundation to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and other technical education programs.

They announced their third major grant yesterday in Birmingham. It’s for $4.1 million to the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT). They’ll use it for tech skills development education for girls and women throughout the Southeast.

The National Center for Women and Information Technology is the recipient of a $4.1 million grant to increase the number of Southeastern women in tech.

The National Center for Women in Technology is a giant nationwide non-profit community. They’ve got more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits and government organizations working together for one goal. That goal is to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing.

NCWIT helps changemakers recruit, retain, and advance women from K-12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. Nice to have someone like that on your side . . .

How will the $4.1 million help increase the number of Southeastern women in tech?

Tech Birmingham's Birmingham Women in Technology Breakfast is part of Birmingham's robust tech infrastructure.
Tech Birmingham’s Birmingham Women in Technology Breakfast is part of the robust infrastructure that attracted the NCWIT to Alabama. Photo from Facebook

The goal of this grant is to increase the number of women in tech in the Southeastern US.

NCWIT actually was awarded the grant in December 2018. By December 2019, they plan to have the following up and running in Alabama:

1. AspireIT peer-led computing education

Girls and young women can teach each other a lot.
Girls and young women can teach each other a lot. Photo from NCWIT Facebook page

This program teaches “K-12 girls programming fundamentals and computational thinking in fun, creative, and hands-on environments. AspireIT participants are ultimately encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas to future innovations.”

2. Counselors for Computing

Counselors for Computing is one of the programs NCWIT will bring to Alabama.
Counselors for Computing is one of the programs NCWIT will bring to Alabama. Photo from Facebook

C4C helps school counselors support ALL students as they explore computer science education and careers.

3. Aspirations in Computing

Tech Birmingham provides opportunities for women and girls to get involved in computing.
Tech Birmingham provides opportunities for women and girls to get involved in computing. Photo from Facebook

This program provides “community scholarship, internship and networking opportunities.”

Why Alabama as a place to increase Southeastern women in tech?

TechBirmingham celebrates Women in Tech.
From Facebook

Birmingham is the first of three cities in the Southeast to be identified as part of this new initiative. The folks at NCWIT were impressed with the educational infrastructure, technical ecosystem, community support and demand, and city leadership. Nice job, Bham.

Why Southeastern women in tech?

Changing who's involved in a sector like tech requires intention.
Looking at how to address the issues that keep a sector like tech looking a certain way without intentional effort. From NCWIT’s Facebook page

Here’s what Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, had to say:

“As of 2017, women held only 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the United States. To close this gap and fill an estimated 3.5 million computing-related job openings expected by 2026, we must make computing education accessible to all.”

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This is an exciting opportunity for girls and women in Birmingham and throughout the Southeast. Here at Bham Now, we’ll be staying tuned. We’ll definitely keep you up to date as this unfolds.

What do y’all think of this new initiative?

Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference