On Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 6:45 AM, CBC Radio Manitoba hosted an interview with Trish Rempel from Apptius Computer Solutions Inc. and Laurie Cutrone from Red River College on women in technology and the start of the Winnipeg Girl Geek Dinners group.
To listen to the interview, please download the file: girlgeekdinners.mp3 (5.40 MB).
Laurie Cutrone is an instructor in the Business Information Technology program at Red River College. She has been teaching at the college in this and similar programs for 10 years. Prior to this she was a Computer Programmer and Systems Analyst at Western Canada Lottery Corporation.
In her career as an IT professional as well as her career in IT education, she has noticed an overwhelming imbalance in terms of gender among her colleagues and students. Over the past 5 years she has taken strides to:
1. Understand the root of the problem
2. See if something could be done to equalize the IT sector in terms of gender
During this time, Laurie has invited students from high schools and junior high schools to the college to experience a taste of IT education. In developing contacts at the high school and junior high school level, as well as through research, she has determined that the problem starts at a very young age. It is at the junior high school level where the so-called “geek factor” sets in. Girls that were once interested in computers tend to shy away from computing courses when they ultimately begin making elective choices for high school. As a result, the same imbalance seen at the post-secondary level as well as in the workforce can also be seen in high schools. Girls enthusiastically enrol in the junior high school camps and feedback indicates that at that point they have a keen interest in computers. However, when the high school camps are run, the female students are overwhelmingly outnumbered.
Trish Rempel is a consultant with Apptius Computer Solutions Inc., specializing in .Net application development and analysis. She has been into computers since she first set eyes on a Commodore 64, and has over ten years of development experience.
Trish first noticed the IT gender disparity in high school at a province-wide computer programming contest, where an entire gymnasium was filled with future developers, and she was the only female.
Hoping to bring the Winnipeg women of technology together to learn, make friends, and have a good time, Trish started the Winnipeg Girl Geek Dinners group.