GISH, Chief Industries works to get more girls in tech-related careers

Female students with GISH's Academy for Engineering and Technology tour Chief Industries...
Female students with GISH's Academy for Engineering and Technology tour Chief Industries Tuesday to learn more about tech-related fields. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 7:10 PM CDT
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A local school is bridging the gap between men and women in tech-related fields by changing the way high school girls view those careers.

To do this, the school paired with Chief Industries. Ten girls from Grand Island Public School's Academy of Engineering and Technology toured Chief IT Department Tuesday.

The goal of the mentoring program is to connect the girls with other women who work in tech-related fields, and give them the opportunity to find out more about them.

"This would break down some barriers, because it would excite the girls," said Daisy Gutierrez, a student. "It would be like, 'wow. There are some ladies out here and they really enjoy their job. Maybe I would too.'"

There's always been a lack of women in STEM. Studies show it's because women aren't interested in those types of careers, or just don't know much about them. That's the mentality Grand Island Public Schools wants to change.

There are 25 girls in GISH's Academy of Engineering and Technology. That's less than 10 percent of the Academy's total student population.

"If we can get them excited about not only engineering, but technology or aviation or alternative energy in high school, we think that we can better prepare them for whatever that next step may be," said Nicki Stoltenberg, Academy partnership liaison.

Chief also faces challenges when hiring people in their tech areas. Currently, women account for less than 20 percent of Chief's IT Department.

Deb Martinez, application analyst manager for Chief Industries, said they're hoping this program will start getting girls more interested in STEM at a young age and could open up doors for future careers at Chief.

"We don't get as many applicants as we do men, and we'd like to see that change. So we're hoping that by mentoring some of these sophomore girls they'll want to stick with an IT profession for their career," Martinez said.

The girls will continue to meet with people at Chief once a month to discuss other tech careers.