Despite the overwhelming number of women enrolling in, and graduating from, colleges and universities each year, there is still a gender gap in technological careers for women. Some women working in IT fields share that this shortage of women in tech is due to societal and cultural stigmas that have to change. Others note that with encouragement and education young girls and women can continue to shatter the glass ceiling that continues to hang over women and girls planning on a career in a STEM field.

NCWITHowever, through initiatives like the National Center for Women in Technology’s (NCWIT) – Aspirations in Computing, young women are gaining traction in the digital realm. Self-described as a “talent development pipeline initiative,” Aspirations in Computing offers many resources for women interested in pursuing a career in technology.
Among those resources offered are the Aspire IT K-12 Outreach Program, the NCWIT Collegiate Award and the Award for Aspirations in Computing.

A multi-tiered competition, the Award for Aspirations in Computing, offers high school aged women the opportunity to network with pivotal and experienced female techies in addition to offering a $500 scholarship and a trophy for the awardee and her school.

Such encouragement is vital, shared Mary Jean Schmitt (MJ), a NetApp Federal Business Manager, in a recent interview. MJ advised girls “start early and don’t give up.” She elaborated that there is a great deal of support for girls at the elementary and middle school level but that there is a shortage of such resources and initiatives at the high school level.

Aspirations in Computing has had an extraordinary impact on high school aged women in computing since its start in 2007, having granted awards to nearly 5K young women. Past awardees include individuals like Aaila, an autodidact who sought to teach herself code and joined a freelance coding camp, or Carina, who, in 2013, coached the first girl’s Lego team and was a member and captain of the first Tech Challenge high school robotics team at her school.

These incredible women are reaching high toward that glass ceiling. And with the continued support and encouragement of initiatives like the Award for Aspirations in Computing, young women nationwide will continue to thrive in technology based careers.

Applications for the award are being accepted through November 4th 2015. To register and apply, click here.