Girl Power Times 500

Published: May 11, 2004

Girl Power Times 500


On May 8, UMBC will welcome 500 sixth through eighth-grade girls and one of the nation’s most visible women journalists for Computer Mania Day 2004, a day of hands-on, fun learning designed to close the information technology (IT) gender gap.

500 middle school girls from Baltimore City and a dozen surrounding counties will be inspired by keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien, anchor of CNN’s “American Morning.” Computer Mania Day connects the girls (boys are welcome too) with female role models from Baltimore-area companies, schools, government agencies and UMBC for fun, hands-on workshops that explore the science behind cell phones, hot air balloons, code-breaking and many other topics.

Computer Mania Day is a hands-on extension of the mission of UMBC’s Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT), which ABC has named “the best resource on women and technology on the Web.”

Research shows that the IT gender gap opens as early as the middle school years, when girls are most image-conscious and do not want to be labeled as “geeks” or “nerds.” Girls make up only 14.3% of the students who take Advanced Placement courses in computer science, a key to success in IT-related fields at the college level.

“Computer Mania Day brings businesses, educators and community members together to show girls that whatever their career choice, they’ll need to use technology, and that technology is cool,” says CWIT Director Claudia Morrell.

A parallel parent and teacher program will complement the day by providing information about causes for girls’ low enrollment in technology courses and what parents can do to encourage girls to embrace technology.

The 2003 event hosted by UMBC drew 300 students from Baltimore and Howard County schools. This year’s event is scheduled to include 500 participating girls from the following public school systems: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Calvert County, Cecil County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Somerset County, and St. Mary’s County.

Morrell is currently leading efforts to address the IT gender gap at the state level through legislation that will develop a task force to study the issue. “As Maryland looks to become a national leader in the high-tech economy, we need to make sure that everyone participates and everyone benefits,” says Morrell.

For more information on Computer Mania Day, please go to the online news release.

Press Kit Components Available Online for Download (Adobe PDF files):

Computer Mania Day Schedule

Computer Mania Day Sponsors

Facts About Technology & Mentoring at UMBC

Video from Computer Mania Day 2003



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