Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Technologists

What’s the best way to support the next generation of female tech enthusiasts? IT Center staff provide a resounding response: You recognize their talent and cultivate a community where they can experiment, explore, and thrive. That’s the goal of the sixth annual Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards. While efforts to narrow the gender gap in the tech industry have received renewed attention, women made up only 26 percent of the nationwide computing workforce in 2016, and less than 10 percent were women of color.


Russell Fraenkel, Director of IT Career Pathways & Partnerships

Possessing the collective desire to address the gender and opportunity gaps, beginning in 2012, Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and an ever-growing list of impressive partners, have amassed formidable resources to support young women in high school interested in technology.  Since then, 145 Minnesota honorees have been recognized at the state and national level. Applications have increased an average of 32% per year.  During the summer of 2017, 14 high school award honorees, were paid by Minnesota businesses to join their ranks of college age summer interns. To view what some of the interns have experienced at their summer internship, visit the 2017 MNAiC Summer Internship Program on Flipgrid.  Beyond internships, four of the 2017 honorees received $1,000 scholarships to area colleges. And since 2012, 48 businesses/organizations have provided full to part-day job shadow experiences, impacting 38 students.  A year-round skill building, mentor connecting, and student networking program, SPARCS, which evolved from the Aspirations Program, serves award honorees, and any high school female student with technology curiosity and interests.


The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)Minnesota partners with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), who created the award in 2007 to encourage the computing aspirations of young women, while introducing them to leadership opportunities in the field, and generating visibility for women’s participation in computing-related careers. Awards are based on the interests, accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, and community involvement of young women in computing and technology-related activities. Minnesota applicants are automatically entered into the national awards program.


Additional award program sponsors are needed!  Please help.

You and your company can play a vital role supporting the collaborative efforts provided by the following 2016-17 partners: Maverick Software Consulting, Veritas Technologies, SPS Commerce, Upper Midwest Security Alliance, Land O’Lakes, STEM Fuse, Target, Thomson Reuters, General Mills, Unisys, Twin Cities Chapter of the Association for Women in Computing, Pearson, HelpSystems, SUPERVALU, Metropolitan State University, Institute for Professional Development, Bellmont Partners, National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), PeopleNet, Securian, ESP IT, Logic PD, Minnesota Computers for Schools, Microsoft, Girls in Tech – Twin Cities, Nerdery, Information Systems Security Association, Genesys Works, Best Buy, COCO, College of St. Scholastica, Tech IT Out! MN, and Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence.  To learn more about being an award partner or sponsor, please click here.


Spread the word to high school students!

Do you know a high school student who should be encouraged to apply, or a colleague or friend with a daughter in high school, or a high school teacher with an interest to promote the technology engagement of young women? The Aspirations in Computing Awards application period opens September 1, 2017. Click here to learn more and submit an application today!

Gain access to FREE Educator & Employer Resources

IT Connect is Minnesota State — IT Center of Excellence’s online career management system which connects students, faculty and employers across the state to internships, full-time jobs, career fairs, workshops, FUSION residencies, events and more!