Cisco Says 'Try IT, You'll Like IT'

High school girls in New York Wednesday will have an opportunity to hear about IT career paths at a conference hosted by Cisco.

December 5, 2005

2 Min Read
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High school girls in New York this week will have the opportunity to hear about IT career paths they might not have imagined for themselves in industries as diverse as aeronautics, biotechnology, publishing, fashion, and retail.

Cisco Systems Inc. will host a conference Wednesday geared toward young women in high school. The day-long session will educate attendees on the possibilities for a career in IT through its Women's Action Network (WAN).

It's the fourth event Cisco has hosted where students can gather to hear from experts in the IT field. They also can sign up to work with mentors to help them shape a career path. The focus is not solely on telecommunications or networking; analysis and programming in diverse industries will also be presented.

"It never occurs to some girls that women can work in the fashion industry and have a technology job," said Gene Longo, senior manager of the Cisco Networking Academy at Cisco Systems. "All industries are users of technology, and for a lot of young women they never thought they could work in publishing but have a job in technology."

The percentage of women receiving their bachelor degrees in the nation's top 70 to 80 research institutions is only about 18 percent, according to Lucy Sanders, chief executive officer of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).When young women understand that technology is often deployed to save endangered wildlife or assist a cancer patent, or make a difference in someone's life, they become more interested, Longo said. For example, Cisco is working on a project in Seattle, Wash., with a non-profit organization where IP telephony phones are used to set up a community voice mail that gives the homeless a place for friends and family to leave messages and reach them.

Last month, Cisco announced that it had joined forces with NCWIT to increase awareness in education and career opportunities for girls and women in science, technology, math, and engineering.

Cisco is not alone in seeking to raise awareness of IT as a viable industry for women.

In October, Microsoft dubbed the University of Massachusetts, Amherst its first "showcase school" and gave the school $11 million toward several initiatives. One is The Women in Technology Initiatives program, which encourages women’s studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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