YPSILANTI -- Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, but women are not stepping into as many jobs in the field as men, which is among the reasons Eastern Michigan University hosted more than 300 area middle school girls at its Digital Divas event on Nov. 6.
"The Digital Divas event gives us a great opportunity to initiate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and to encourage the girls to get more involved with technology in the future," said Bia Hamed, program manager, Extended Programs at EMU. "The girls really learned a lot about many STEM fields, and we hope this annual event continues to inspire young girls."
The focus of the day-long conference, was to show girls that careers in STEM fields can not only be lucrative, but fun and rewarding.
During the opening program, keynote speakers included Mohamad Qatu, dean of the EMU College of Technology; Robin Batten, cyber safety program coordinator for the Washtenaw Area Council for Children; and Jessica Wilson, an information assurance student at EMU.
The day was filled with hands-on learning activities, including networking opportunities with professional women in STEM fields. Some of the hands-on sessions included learning about becoming a pilot, how to use a 3D printer to build orthotics and prosthetics and how geometry can be used in fashion industry.
"It was exciting to see these young girls realize that that they could be a software engineer or that they could be coding or developing apps," said Susan Gregory, professor in the College of Technology and co-chair of the event. "Traditionally, girls have been discouraged from pursuing a career in the STEM field, which is exactly what we hope to change in the near future."
Thanks to corporate sponsors, including DTE Energy Foundation, ITC and Consumers Energy, the Digital Divas event continues to be free for its participants.
Eastern Michigan's Extended Programs and the College of Technology hosted the event, which is also held in the spring. More information can be found by visiting the Digital Divas homepage.