From Texas Public Radio:
Women make up only 25 percent of the technology workforce and only 5 percent of its industry leaders. As San Antonio’s first Center for Applied Science and Technology — or CAST Tech High School — closes its application period on Friday, they are looking to raise the number of female applicants. CAST Tech Principal Kelly Flieger says she wants to beat the national average.
“I would love to hit 40 percent girls,” says Flieger.
The first freshman class will be 150 students. Cindy Barrera wants to be one of those freshman this fall.
“CAST Tech, they think about the future. I love coding and that’s what they focus on, and business, entrepreneurship and gaming,” says Barrera.
The problem, says the Longfellow eighth grader is that people are telling her she can’t succeed in technology.
“Mostly my older brother and my friends at school, and sometimes my mom,” she explains.
Cindy says while a lot of people think she can’t succeed in technology, “I mostly think, ok, just wait and see,” she says smiling.
Despite Cindy’s enthusiasm, Principal Flieger says she has more applicants than seats, but is still below her personal goal of 40 percent female applicants.
Flieger scheduled a special information session at Girls Inc. to speak directly to young women about the school that offers mentorships from community tech leaders and provides a laptop to every student. The presentation features eight women in a variety of tech jobs from user experience to software development.
For Girls Inc. President Lea Rosenauer, you have to show girls it can be done.
“Absolutely, because girls need to know that this is for them,” says Rosenauer.
Girls Inc. works with young women outside of school to counter societal messages about what girls can do. Rosenauer says even today girls are still hearing that math and science aren’t for them.
“Girls in elementary school are on par with boys. They love science. They love math. They love history. They love English. When they get into middle school though they really believe the message that says math really isn’t for them,” she says.
Jennifer Erickson is an IT Program Manager for financial services company USAA. She says it wasn’t cool for girls to be nerds when she was a kid, and her parents had to push her into math and science. Before long she was the only female in her college computer science courses. She wants to help change that for these girls.
“Right. That’s why I am here. I want to be that support system and tell them you can do it,” she says.
Gabe Castro is a network engineer in San Antonio. He brought his 12-year-old daughter Lola to hear more about the school even though the seventh grader can’t apply for another year.
“We’ve been seeing the information all over social media for the last six months, and I have been excited about it since I first learned about it,” says Gabe.
Lola is excited.
“It seems like a lot of fun. I like programming and coding. I’m in an advanced computer class right now. I would like to go into the technology field.
Classes for CAST Tech begin this fall. School officials hope to announce their selections after spring break.