One of my coworkers sent me an e-mail, suggesting I write an entry about something called NCWIT. Long story short, she hit the nail on the head.
Forewarning: this post is not directly relevant to boys in high school—unless you have a sister in high school, or female friends… which many of you do. But I wanted to clarify.
My take on NCWIT and their mission:
NCWIT stands for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. They came around in 2004 when the world started realizing women were getting less nerdy (a bad thing). Back in ’85, 37% of Computer Science degree-holders were female. Now it’s down to 17%.
To be clear: it’s ridiculous to believe this is because women are dumb. Women actually hold more than half of all the professional jobs in the US. So there. But these stats do show that women are moving away from computer science, and otherwise sciencey fields.
Lots of people have guesses as to why that is; it could be because they see computers (and the like) to be silly and pointless. According to some cool books I’ve read about under-represented groups in tech industries, high school girls who were asked tended to say they didn’t see how it could help anyone. That it’s just for computer games and dancing robots. (Not that dancing robots aren’t awesome.)
Basically, they want girls to study science. As you’ve heard in school, diverse crowds in a workplace (or anywhere) may lead to disagreement, but it also leads to a broader scope of knowledge and experiences, and winds up making everything better for everyone. Women are about 50% of the population, and should probably be about 50% of any given environment. Makes sense, right?
But I digress.
Why I’m telling you:
Applications for their contest opened Monday the 13th, and close the 15th of October (read: you have only a month). Winners of the national competition get:
- $500 in cash
- a laptop computer, provided by Bank of America
- a trip to attend the Bank of America Technology Showcase and Awards Ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina
- an engraved award for both the student and the student’s school
You’re in luck, too. Since you live in Oregon, there’s also a local competition, which uses the same application. Winners of that are recognized at a cool ceremony, and get a trophy for you and your school. (I hear they’re working on getting more/better prizes as well. Check on that page again down the road.)
What’s the point?
If $500, and a laptop, a free vacation to North Carolina and some engravings aren’t enough to get you to enter, I can only think of one thing that would turn the tables: you can put it on your resume. Things like this look great on a college (and job) application; they show you’re involved and willing to work to be recognized for your abilities. Also that you dive into your interests with gusto. And gusto is what colleges want. Not just brains—brains with gusto. Gusto.
Here’s a PDF about how to apply. Looks a little daunting, so just chug through the checkboxes one at a time. Get your folks to help you out if you can. Remember that nothing you say here sets your future in stone, so don’t fret about it. Just fill it out. Don’t just BS the written parts, but don’t look at this writing as your final decision; a couple thousand words (less than that, I think) sounds like a lot, but you can chug that many words out in a couple hours. Say what you want and what you like now. And just pick a few fields (page 3) that sound cool.