3,500 St Johns students enter “Women in IT” program


300-CITI-WOMEN-IN-ITHistoric City News was informed this afternoon that in order to inspire more middle and high school girls to consider careers in technology, financial services giant Citigroup launched a career education program in 14 St Johns County schools this month.

The program has reached more than 3,500 students thus far — across seven middle schools and seven high schools. The curriculum is designed to build confidence, inspire students to want to learn more, and reduce the misconception that “IT is not for me,” according to Christina Langston at the St Johns County School District offices.

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

Citi’s “Women in IT” program was created and presented by employees from Citi’s Jacksonville-based Global Consumer Technology division, who have dedicated more than 1,600 volunteer hours to the project. The St. Johns County School District partnered with Citigroup to validate the curriculum and coordinate session times.

Early results have been positive, as measured by surveys before and after the sessions:

•Prior to the sessions, only 26 percent of students indicated an interest in pursuing IT careers.

•After attending the sessions, those numbers leapt to 65 percent.

Citi is currently evaluating options to expand the program to additional schools in the Jacksonville area as well as other locations near Citi offices. In addition to the sessions, the company will be sponsoring a group of students to participate in a one-week internship at its Jacksonville office this summer.

“There is a truly incredible opportunity in front of today’s female student, and this program is about shining a light on the benefits that a career in technology can provide,” said Citi Operations & Technology Chief Administrative Officer Yolande Piazza, who oversees the program. “Many of us had a moment in school that sparked our interest in a particular career field, and if this program provides that for even a small handful of students, we will have accomplished our goal.”

Employees launched the program on March 3, as part of Citi’s global observance of International Women’s Day on March 8. The company hosted more than 230 events in 89 countries throughout the week to celebrate women’s contributions to Citi’s history, emphasize the role women will play in defining Citi’s future, and to acknowledge that the recruitment and advancement of women is a business imperative.

About the “Women in IT” program:

“Women in IT” was influenced 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. (She++)

•Women make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, but hold just 25% of the jobs in technical or computing fields. (Girls Who Code)

•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. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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 45-60 minutes for high school students, consisting of a presentation, videos and games facilitated by Citi employees. 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.

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.