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Nov. 11, 2019

Case, Spradling host all-women’s computing conference, break down barriers

By Kala Dixon, communication assistant


Northwest Missouri State University computer science and information systems faculty Dr. Carol Spradling and Dr. Denise Case coordinated and hosted the National Center for Women in Computing (NCWIT) Girls Explore Tech Day Sept. 21 at Northwest-Kansas City.

The event encouraged young women interested in technology to build projects using micro:bit hardware systems, engage with interesting activities, practice creativity and problem-solving skills, and collaborate with others interested in similar pursuits.

Attendees participated in a programming workshop and various lectures with women in the computing industry. Teachers and high school students traveled from as far as Topeka, Kansas, to attend.

“Women are significantly underrepresented in computer science, which leaves industry without access to a large amount of talent,” Case said. “Events like this offer assistance and encouragement to engage that large pool of potential contributors. We hope to nurture their innate curiosity, support their interests, encourage them to continue their technical education and go after some of the outstanding work opportunities available.”

Dr. Annie Hoekman, associate professor of computer studies at Kansas Wesleyan University, attended the conference and believes events like Girls Explore Tech Day help break down stereotypes for women in male-dominated industries.

“For decades, the sciences and particularly the computer field has been dominated by males,” Hoekman said. “At a very young age, girls are deciding what they are good at and what they dream to be when they grow up. Those dreams are wonderful and need to continue, but they need to believe they can be in the computer field. If we can provide more knowledge about all the ways computers are used today in all fields, maybe we can break down barriers about the computer industry and their impact.”

Women interested in attending the event next year are encouraged to visit aspirations.org and click the United States map on the homepage to find a regional affiliate.

“We hope women enjoy the event and enjoy the challenge of building something new and creative,” Case said of Girls Explore Tech. “We want to offer a chance to problem-solve, to share solutions in a competitive and collaborative environment, and to get to experience the opportunity of being well-represented in a technical group.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704