New Program for Technology Careers

A new career education program rolling out in St. Johns County schools tomorrow aims to inspire more students, especially girls, to consider careers in the lucrative field of technology. The program was created by Citibank in partnership with the St. Johns County School District and is being delivered to students at all of the district’s high schools and middle schools.

“This is a great opportunity to highlight IT and the many different careers our female students can pursue in this field,” said Paula Chaon, director for Career Education.

Pedro Menendez High School will host the presentation at 2 p.m. on March 7. More than 300 students will be in the audience and media is invited to attend.

The “Women in IT” program was inspired by organizations such as Girls Who Code and She++, and launched in response to a few troubling statistics:

  • Since 1984, the percentage of female computer science graduates has dropped from 37 percent to 12 percent. (Girls Who Code)
  • In middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but when choosing a college major, just 0.3 percent of high school girls select computer science. (Girls Who Code)
  • Between 2000 and 2009, there was a 79 percent drop in the number of first-year undergraduate women considering computer science. (She++)

Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 the IT sector will add nearly 1.4 million job openings, but compared to a projection of only 400,000 computer science students, more than two-thirds of those jobs could go unfilled. These numbers highlight the talent gap and immense opportunity ahead of our nation’s students — particularly females.

The sessions are 90 minutes in length for middle school students and 45 minutes for high school students, consisting of a presentation, videos and games. Topics include facts about women in IT, the types of roles that are available, inspirational personal stories and information about the lifestyle benefits that an IT career can provide. Employees from Citi’s Global Consumer Technology office in Jacksonville will be conducting the sessions.

Participants are also asked to complete web-based assessments before and during the course to help identify activities that interest them. The course then relates those skills and interests to careers like project management, computer programming and graphic design, among others. Each role description also includes background on the average salaries and typical educational requirements.