Getting more females involved in science, technology, engineering and math careers is important for many local businesses, and two local women are doing their part by bringing back the local chapter of Girls in Tech Phoenix.
Girls in Tech is a global nonprofit focused on engaging, educating and empowering women in technology and entrepreneurship.
The local chapter will create programming for females of all ages, with a focus on entrepreneurship, mentorship and professional development, said Rebecca Clyde, the co-managing director of Girls in Tech Phoenix.
“We want to see more women enter STEM fields, flourish and lead within the tech sector in Phoenix,” said Clyde, co-founder of Ideas Collide, a Scottsdale-based digital marketing and advertising firm. “This spans the classroom to the board room.”
Clyde met Melissa Drake, a math and programming teacher at Shadow Ridge High School in Surprise, at the Girls in Tech Catalyst conference last year in Phoenix. The two were both interested in working with a local chapter, and decided to partner and re-ignite the chapter here after hearing it no longer existed.
The two women spent a year going through the process with the Girls in Tech organization, formed a board of experienced, local women and will officially launch the Phoenix chapter June 15 at a free, public launch event at the Arizona Science Center.
“One of the biggest components of talking with all these professional women is many of these women are interested in mentoring the younger generation to assist them in their career development,” said Drake, a former electrical engineer with NASA, Motorola and ON Semiconductor. “That really excites me because we need that.”
Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, according to statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project.
Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities in engineering, computer science and the physical sciences, according to the National Science Foundation.
Clyde has worked in technology her entire career, and said she always felt underrepresented. She’s gravitated towards causes and other leaders to improve the situation, she added.
“We’re bringing in leaders from the community and the tech industry of other women who are very passionate about women in tech,” said Clyde, who is also the co-founder of the new startup Botco.ai, an artificial intelligent chatbot platform for customer relationship management software. “We’re really looking for other people to participate to support this effort, either by volunteering, organizations who want to partner together, or companies who wish to sponsor and underwrite these programs.”
The goal is to tap into local women leaders to inspire, mentor and teach the younger generation, and inspire other women to enter higher levels of influence at their company, she said.
The Girls in Tech Phoenix chapter also plans to compile local numbers of women involved in STEM careers to show how the city ranks nationally. The Phoenix Business Journal attempted to do a similar compilation of local diversity in a 2015 cover story.
“We want to see women grow and succeed in STEM careers,” Clyde said. “We’re definitely striking a chord here. We’re super excited about being a part of that.”
If you go:
- What: Girls in Tech Phoenix chapter launch party, with the film screening of “She Started It”
- When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. June 15
- Where: Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix
- Cost: Free
- Sponsors: Presenting sponsor WebPT; silver-level sponsors Prism Global Marketing Solutions and Qwaltec; bronze-level sponsors Creative Circle, Ideas Collide, OH Strategic Communications, and Startup AZ Foundation; and venue sponsor Arizona Science Center.
- RSVP required by clicking here.
Hayley Ringle covers technology and startups for the Phoenix Business Journal, where this article was originally featured.