Girls give high tech a look

FAIRMONT – With fewer than 20 percent of technology jobs held by women, the industry is making a concentrated effort to recruit more with events such as Microsoft’s DigiGirlz convention.

Mandy Fletcher, business education teacher at Fairmont High School, recently accompanied five students to the Microsoft Technology Center in Edina.

“They’ve been doing it for a few years,” she said of DigiGirlz. “They only accept 100 girls statewide.”

Dani Morris and Brianna Shriver, two ninth-graders who attended, admit they went “to get out of school,” but they quickly changed their attitudes.

“After the first session, I was thinking about wanting to do something like that,” Morris said.

Presenters and panelists were women working in different technological capacities, and they shared their personal stories.

“They taught you about what they did and how they started [in technology],” Shriver said. “I went from thinking I have to sit through this, to thinking I get to sit through this.”

“The last session of the day, we got to talk to women that work with Microsoft,” Morris said.

Microsoft sponsors DigiGirlz programs “globally throughout the year,” Fletcher said. Most states, such as Minnesota, have only one program available with space very limited.

“It’s limited because they want to keep things real for the girls,” Fletcher said. “It’s not just sitting there writing [computer] code.”

Sarah Ostlie, Bailey Dulas and Marissa Krzywicki joined Morris and Shriver at the DigiGirlz conference.

If there’s a possibility to attend a future DigiGirlz conference, Morris and Shriver definitely would.

“It turned out to be much more than I expected,” Morris said.