ChickTech Teams Up With AT&T Oregon to Bring STEM Workshops to Rural-Area Girls

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Pilot program made possible with $40,000 in contributions from AT&T Oregon, with plans to expand to other communities

Today, Oregon-based nonprofit ChickTech (http://www.chicktech.org) announced $40,000 in contributions from AT&T Oregon to develop and sustain a rural pilot program that tests new approaches for bringing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-based programs to rural areas. The rural program approach, developed in central Oregon, will help ChickTech work toward its mission of increasing and retaining the number of women and girls in technology-based careers.

“Preparing America for success in the global economy starts with more STEM education to train our next generation of engineers,” said Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley. “Through collaboration among business, nonprofits and government, we will achieve our vision of a more diverse America with economic opportunity for all. I applaud ChickTech and AT&T for partnering to bring STEM education to Central Oregon girls — the scientists, coders, engineers of our future.”

Currently, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/womenintech_facts_fullreport_05132016.pdf), women represent only 25 percent of professional computing occupations, despite comprising more than 50 percent of the U.S. population. ChickTech is working to address this by creating opportunities for students who display aptitude for STEM-based professions to be exposed to female role models and mentors who have successful careers in these fields.

The AT&T funded pilot program gives ChickTech a new way to bring its STEM-based workshops to rural high schools. The test project worked with 19 high school girls in central Oregon. The workshop was held at the Central Oregon Community College campus in Madras, a small town of 6,046, on February 10-11 and included girls from the towns of Madras, Prineville, and Culver and the Warm Springs Reservation.

At the two-day event, students could choose to participate in either a soft circuits or 3D printing workshop, enabling them to design and create technology projects they could take home. The workshops were supplemented by activities that brought together girls from different high schools, building a sense of community within the shared interest of creating technology. During the breaks, girls and volunteers talked about career options in technology and the education that supports those career choices. For some girls, being in the setting of the community college allowed them to envision themselves as college students and plot their future careers.

“The ChickTech workshop[s] taught our students that they have the ability to be an active creator of technology, not just a consumer,” said Thomas Arand, STEM Beyond School regional coordinator for the High Desert Education District. “I was really happy to see the families of the girls come to the Tech Show at the end of the workshop to see what their kids had created.”

AT&T Oregon made two contributions to support the development of this rural pilot program. It made a $25,000 contribution to provide funds needed to design and execute the rural pilot program, followed by a $15,000 contribution to sustain the effort.

“As one of the world’s largest tech companies, we know how critical it is that we have a pipeline of qualified individuals interested in pursuing careers in the STEM fields,” said George Granger, AT&T Oregon president. “We are proud of our roster of more than 84,000 women working to help lead a transformation in the way we connect with our world. By supporting ChickTech’s rural pilot program we are investing in the future of our tech workforce and the future of our communities. It is exciting to see ChickTech bring this idea to life.”

ChickTech is continuing to refine its rural program approach. Plans are underway to expand the program to other rural communities nationwide.

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley, founder and CEO of ChickTech, adds: “The low volume of female representation in tech careers doesn’t stem from lack of interest, but from not knowing at a young age that these opportunities exist for women in the first place. As tech jobs continue to be centered in urban areas, this is even more true for girls who live in rural communities and aren’t often exposed to any women who work in tech. Having grown up in a rural area, it’s important for me to bring these kinds of workshops to these communities to build the pipeline of women entering technology fields.”

About ChickTech
ChickTech is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers. With 14 active chapters in the U.S. and Canada, ChickTech offers educational workshops, mentoring, and internship opportunities for high school girls who aspire to technology careers. Additionally, ChickTech provides career events for women in technology fields to create a supportive community of professionals to network, grow their skills, and discover employers looking for exceptional talent. For more information, visit http://www.chicktech.org.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChickTechOrg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChickTech/

Media Contact - ChickTech
Justin Ordman
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
chicktech(at)rlyl.com
Ph. (617) 237-0922

Media Contact – AT&T
Rick Thomas
Quinn Thomas
rick(at)quinnthomas.com
Ph. (503) 789-2115

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Justin Ordman
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
+1 (617) 237-0922
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