ITgirls is an initiative aiming to redefine, inspire, & empower girls in fields where inclusivity & representation need transformation.
ITgirls founder, Sophie Crowder, talks to her fellow students and Itgirls about her own STEM journey (and how to take apart computer servers).
Supporting our kick off event are Itgirls mentors which is composed of women who are working in non-traditional career fields such as those in IT, Engineering, and other STEM-oriented fields.
Itgirls founder, Sophie Crowder, leading the workshop in laptop assembly.
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Eligibility: Date of Birth
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Mailing Address: 310 Chaptico Road, South Hill, VA 23970
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Find us on Instagram: (@itgirls_hq) https://www.instagram.com/itgirls_hq/
Date You Started Your Project Started
ITgirls is a student-led initiative founded by then 8th-grader, Sophia Crowder, on November 13, 2018. After reflecting on my personal experience, I felt the need to create a platform where we can help inspire, empower, challenge, and represent the under-and-misrepresentation of girls (& women) especially in bridging the gender inequality not only in workplaces, but starting in schools. I collaborated with our community college to realize this initiative and reach out to other girls in our area.
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
ITgirls was founded to help girls redefine their value, break the stereotype, address the gender bias, & instill a resilient mindset to inspire, empower, challenge, & represent--transforming them into smart, skilled, confident, & capable women. We aim not only to close the gender gap in STEM, but most importantly, to inspire girls to become empowered women because we believe that to enact changes, we need to be the change we want to see.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
This student-led initiative aims to foster interest among middle-high school girls to consider pursuing non-traditional career pathways such as those that are in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math. By collaborating w/our local community college, we opened up an opportunity for girls in our community to consider academic & career choices that will enable them to lessen the underrepresentation of girls & women in such fields. ITgirls aspires to:
INSPIRE girls to realize their potential by reaching out to schools within our community; offering a dynamic program, mentorship, & establishing a support system.
EMPOWER them to develop their knowledge, skills, and confidence by introducing them to STEM enriched hands-on projects & activities, mentor-matching w/women role-models, & creating a support network of resources & encouragement.
CHALLENGE the status quo. We want to transform the girls in our community to be game-changers, to know & not be afraid to show their value, & be confident trailblazers.
REPRESENT the marginalized sectors of our community beginning with the underrepresentation of girls & women in non-traditional career pathways, while inspiring others.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
Itgirls stemmed from a personal reflection of what I have experienced in my own STEM journey where I was told: “Why do you even try to be good at something? You will not amount to anything because you are JUST A GIRL.” This made me realize the struggles & challenges that girls like me are facing everywhere. Gender bias has plagued not only our workplaces, it starts out in schools. It motivated me to challenge the stereotypical belief that girls have no place in STEM, not because we are not good enough, but merely because of our gender. I want to put a stop to girls being talked out of their dreams & bullied out of believing in themselves-crushing their hopes, aspirations, & confidence. I wanted to create a platform where girls are encouraged & have the opportunity to be the best version of themselves through education, empowerment, & collaboration--this was what led me to found Itgirls.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
“I am stepping up to make a change because I believe there is a need for us to redefine the value of girls and women in our society. I am honored to present our initiative to help address the under-&-misrepresentation of girls and women in our community. ITgirls is an initiative that aims to inspire, empower, challenge, & represent...We want to change the world and the future one ITgirl at a time, because a world that is inclusive of US, is a world with a future WE all want to be a part of.
My 1-minute elevator pitch, speaking for ITgirls and every girl everywhere!
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
For our start up event, we approached two of the local schools in our community where we invited middle school-to-high school girls to attend a half-day workshop involving hands-on tech activities (i.e. laptop assembly), an open forum with accomplished women professionals working in STEM career fields, as well as encouraged mentorship & networking. The event was a great success & brought tremendous positive feedback from students, many of whom have realized for the first time, that they are capable of doing things they didn’t think they could do. Confidence levels were boosted with many of them fielding questions to our women mentors about how they forged their paths to where they want to be in their careers despite the obstacles they experienced. There was a feeling of accomplishment among each participant as they left with confidence, inspiration, & drive towards new possibilities.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
We believe that great things come in small packages, so we started with a small-scale target area: our community. We haven't seen a similar program, esp within our community, that reaches out to middle-high-school-aged girls, so this is definitely a first for our area. What makes ITgirls also stand out is that we are initiating a wholistic grassroots approach by being community-based. While there are other programs comparable to ours, most of them (if not all) are in big cities, not in small, rural communities like ours. Making programs like this accessible here creates twice the impact.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Our first couple of Itgirls events have attracted over 75 girls from 2 local schools to take part in it, with many already asking when our next succeeding events will be. We've also opened a social media account on IG to further our digital reach & network with other girl-empowering programs. We can already tell how we have made quite an impact within our community as more schools have already asked to be included in our next events & plans of bringing the program towards an even younger audience (3rd-5th grades) are already being considered. The community college we collaborated with is also hoping that there will be a rise in female enrollment in STEM-related courses, as there have been a significant influx of inquiries after the event. We hope that this increase in awareness & interest will continue to drive the numbers up & we get to see more girls in our community pursuing STEM.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
We'd like to see this program expand & be sustainable, bring it to more schools around our area, while reaching out to younger girls & other communities. Our main goals for the future include:
1. Develop a mobile app to create a support network for participants
2. STEM-enriched & confidence-building Summer Workshops
3. Distribute "ITgirl Kits" (screwdrivers, magnifying glass, calculators)
4. Continued collaborations w/ colleges, companies, & other girl-empowering programs
5. Gender-collab: "STEM Squad" outreach program for boys AND girls (K-5th) @ our local library (we believe that exposing boys early on in collaborative STEM activities w/ girls will help create a more positive, inclusive, & encouraging environment for both genders
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?