The IT Girls at Crooms Academy of Information Technology. The club helps girls in every grade at Crooms explore their potential in STEM subjects.
When you think of the It Girls at other local high schools, images of cheerleaders or fashionistas may come to mind. But at Crooms Academy of Information Technology, where girls make up only 25 percent of the student population, these IT Girls are turning heads with their coding skills and career prospects.
The IT Girls club at Crooms is designed to make sure the academy’s female students are at the forefront of the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and ensure the girls have every opportunity to reach their full potential in traditionally male-dominated STEM career fields. Those jobs, by the way, are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying in today’s economy. The club started a few years ago and has since become hugely popular on campus.
“What I hope to gain from the club is more knowledge about the IT careers and what career I might be interested in pursuing,” says senior Erika Intriago, the IT Girls vice president.
And the club continues to evolve – just as the IT industry does – to serve as a custom resource for Crooms students.
Facts and Fun
STEM is present in every career field, says IT Girls cosponsor Casey Brown, a Crooms alumna who is now a paraprofessional at the school. That makes the club appealing to a wide variety of Crooms students, not just the coders-at-heart.
“Kids who come out of Crooms may end up going for college degrees in English, and a good majority of them want to focus on business,” Casey says. “But they all learn tech skills – which are not just for tech roles.”
The IT Girls club was founded by former Crooms principal Demetria Faison. It’s now led by Casey and another cosponsor and Crooms graduate, Allison van Tilborgh, who volunteers her time.
This school year, the club’s 20-or-so members can look forward to field trips to Kennedy Space Center (with a focus on female astronauts) and to a screening of the film Captain Marvel (with its female superhero, set for release on International Women’s Day).
Casey wants the club to offer students a better idea of what STEM fields might interest them.
“I want them to physically touch, practice, and try everything to get a better overview,” says Casey.
Reaching out to professional women in fields such as engineering to come speak to her students is also on Casey’s agenda. She hopes it will offer club members a real-life perspective of STEM careers.
A visit to a college campus is something Casey is eager to line up.
“I’d like to have not only formal workshops, but also give the girls a chance to ask professors questions,” she says.
Wide Range of Support
“Crooms administrators fully support the IT Girls,” says Casey, who notes that the school’s Business Advisory Council consists of local professionals from the community, who also help guide the club.
As the IT Girls fulfill their mission to help female students gather tools they need to succeed in STEM, the club also reaches out to those coming up behind them through the ranks. Grant money has funded IT Girls middle-school workshops to highlight the Crooms magnet program and the STEM field overall.
And the club is looking ahead, too. Cathy Alper, the career specialist at Crooms, works with the IT Girls on résumé creation and cover-letter writing to give them a leg up in job searches now and after college.
Casey, Allison, and the IT Girls will continue to pool resources and organize exposure to STEM fields for girls at Crooms and throughout the community. Casey is committed to ensuring that female students know there is a place for them in this promising, rewarding field.
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