Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A good idea gone (really) bad - IBM Girls' Camp


Another article in as many days confirms what everyone seems to know now about the lack of females in the IT sector, especially graduating ones. So what did IBM do? They tried an "IT camp" for teens. The link above is a not very positive review about the methodology used and I can understand why. What does smashing a nitrogen dipped flower have to do with becoming the next Allison Watson or Eileen Brown unless its meant to show how they can capture that image, fine tune it in Picture It 9.0 express or capture it on a Mobile 6 enabled phone and drop it instantly into a livespace site. Something about intriguing them into entering the IT field seems horribly misguided, albeit a valiant effort. But let's reveiw the article (linked to from the one above, describing the event in more detail:


Now the story comes across in a completely different light and revealed, in wonderful detail, that this camp was, in fact, very well thought out. What the women at IBM did was show these girls that science and technology are intertwined and that by opening their minds and walking away from their IM's for a few minutes, may provide them with a life altering pereception of what we as IT people already know, IT can be a mesmerizing and rewarding opportunity. But they went one step further. They opened them up to experiencing business challenges, working with models, as teams, trying to deal with building safe bridges while under tight budget constraints. Note: they covered marketing, architecture, project management, programming, design and engineering in that one week. So??? They allowed for any number of potential career opportunities to take hold. As one girl realized she wasn't so big on the technical side but showed signs of marketing savvy. Very smart.

What I paticularly appreciated was that they knew from their research that "girls want to make a difference for humanity". Accept it or not we are by nature nurturing rather than taking the "projectiles and blowing things up just because scenario". Given the state of our planet that counterbalance is probably more important than ever. When given the opportunity, most of the girls picked the nitrogen dipped flower over dipping the balloon, and then chose not to smash it into a million pieces.

In the end, realistically, they realize that one week of camp is not going to change the girl's lives and therefore the staff actually goes one step further by keeping in touch with the girls via email during the school year, in the hopes of keeping that initial spark going.

This leads me to an even more important point at the beginning of the "real"article, the event was billed as EX.I.T.E. (Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering). So the reviewer lead us astray from a very important piece of information. This was not just about IT.

What was the matter with the first guy? Never mind. Shame on me for almost letting this obviously erroneous (in my view) take on this event almost jade the people who count on a sound review of events in our global community. 50 lashes with a wet noodle for me.

Oh and by the way this was a link on the second article and is the one I referred to in an earlier posting that talks about Microsoft's Eileen Brown and the hugely successful Tech ED WILT luncheon. If you missed it earlier then click below. It is well worth the read:

LESSON: Do your own research and ALWAYS dig a little further. READ between the lines and then see if there are more articles related to the original. Luckily the first one lead to the second. Had I not clicked on that link I would have propogated one man's poorly conceived view of this camp. As a matter of fact its one reason the internet's information highway has to be driven with caution by us all.

1 comment:

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