DigiGirlz Technology Camp Encourages IT Careers for Young Women

TAMPA, Fla. (March 21, 2008) – Two hundred eleventh grade girls from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas County schools will spend a half-day with female executives, professors, and other women with careers in the technology field on March 28 as Microsoft brings its DigiGirlz camp and Microsoft Across America technology bus to the University of South Florida. The event, a technology day of sorts for girls, will be held 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the USF College of Business.

A visit to the Microsoft Technology Bus, an RV full of computers and other technology tools is part of the day’s agenda, along with panel discussions, a primer on internet safety and security, and hands-on technology breakout sessions with local Microsoft employees.

“Information Technology is a great career for girls, one with job growth, good salaries, and – for those who seek it – opportunities to work across teams, with people,” said USF professor Joni Jones, who teaches in the Information Systems and Decisions Sciences department and will lead the panel discussions. “IT is a field rich with opportunities for women, opportunities to blend business and technical skills as they move towards leadership positions.”

Panelists include Dawn-Marie Elder, Chief of Staff for Microsoft’s east region; Kathleen Durfee, CEO/Founder of TechHouse; Shirley Wyatt, Strategic Security Advisor for Microsoft’s national security team; Laura Metzer, Licensing Specialist for Microsoft; and Hina Musad, a USF grad who serves as Technical Account Manager for Microsoft.

Recent studies show that 75% of American high schools offer web development classes and 12 million teens report that they create content for the web. While students have grown up online, the career field is still perceived as largely male, a myth event planners hope to dispel. DigiGirlz is designed to educate and inspire high-school girls by introducing them to a wide variety of opportunities and career choices available in the high-tech industry. “This is a great opportunity to connect area high-school girls with valuable information about the fast-growing IT field,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of USF’s College of Business.

The University of South Florida’s College of Business is accredited by the AACSB and offers six master’s degree programs, including a part-time, full-time, and weekend Executive MBA program.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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