WiCS receives $90,000 from NSERC to develop technology entrepreneurship programs for girls and young women

Friday, May 29, 2020

Women in Computer Science has received $90,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s PromoScience Program to establish Girls Mean Business. This new WiCS outreach program will encourage girls and young women in grades 6 to 12 to explore technology and to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

photo of a WiCS educational program for girls

Its aim is both to increase enrolment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs and to foster entrepreneurial skills. “WiCS’s core team has experience spanning computer science, education, law, community outreach, and program delivery, making the team uniquely qualified to offer a variety of programs, not just on technology but also on technology entrepreneurship,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “With PromoScience funding, WiCS will now be able to launch Girls Mean Business, thereby expanding WiCS’s outreach activities to include new workshops and a 2021 summer camp that will foster curiosity, instill a love of technology, and guide girls through the steps to become technology entrepreneurs.”

Over the past few years, WiCS has developed and delivered a series of outreach programs for girls and young women to explore technology, to strengthen their self-confidence, and to develop entrepreneurial skills. Through Technovation Waterloo and GIRLsmarts4tech, WiCS has offered girls and young women throughout Waterloo Region an opportunity to work together in supportive environments, with volunteers from local technology companies, while learning to use technology and applying what they have developed to solve real-world problems.

“Girls who participate in the day-long GIRLsmart4tech workshops we offer twice a year are often inspired to continue learning about technology and entrepreneurship, either by enroling in Technovation Waterloo or by pursuing computer science courses in their schools,” said Maura R. Grossman, Research Professor and Director of Women in Computer Science at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and principal investigator on the NSERC PromoScience grant.

“Technovation is an intensive, four-month program that teaches girls and young women to identify a problem in their community, design and build a mobile app to address it, and to pitch a business plan for the app they develop to a panel of judges. The program is overseen by Rae Samuel, Outreach Coordinator of WiCS. Our aim with Girls Mean Business is both to foster technology literacy and entrepreneurship through additional workshops and a week-long summer camp, and to encourage girls to continue developing the skills they acquire by pursuing STEM courses in school.”

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