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TechGirlz Take Over

TechGirlz, a nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in the technology world, partnered with the Close School to host its third annual summer camp for girls interested in tech careers.

TechGirlz campers

July 11, 2014

by Zach Epstein

A clan of smart, determined, resilient entrepreneurs hard at work on a new venture is not an unusual sight at the Baiada Institute. But this week, visitors to the Close School’s incubator saw a twist on that familiar scene.

The Baiada Institute hosted 20 sixth- through -ninth-grade girls researching, developing and creating companies and concepts all their own as a part of the TechGirlz summer camp. TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing adolescent girls to careers in technology, science and innovation.

The third annual TechGirlz camp took advantage of Close School faculty and staff, as well as the founders of companies incubating in the Baiada Institute, who helped provide support and mentorship as the campers developed ideas, presented prototypes and pitched business plans.

“TechGirlz was born out of a desire to correct the imbalance,” says TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman. “I was shocked to find a severe decline of young women entering computer science programs.”

Welson-Rossman, a Drexel graduate herself, says the Close School was the ideal fit for this year’s program.

“It was a match made in entrepreneur heaven,” she says. “Drexel is definitely leading the way in creating stronger entrepreneurs.”

Close School Dean Donna De Carolis agrees.

“I believe in TechGirlz’s mission. It works in lockstep with our mission of creating a supportive academic environment where students are free to pursue their passions and big ideas,” says De Carolis. “We need to close the gender gap when it comes to the jobs of the future — namely jobs in technological and scientific innovations. And TechGirlz is paving the way." 

Tech Girlz campers accomplish more in a week than many entrepreneurs do in a year. They learn to craft and perfect their elevator pitch, create business use cases, design logos, refine their market strategy and much more. The camp culminates in final presentations of their ideas and business plans.

Tech Girlz is at the forefront of a recent tide of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women in the tech sector. Google announced last month that it is investing $50 million into its Made With Code project, which also strives to close the tech scene’s gender gap.

Welson-Rossman, a veteran of custom software and development firm Chariot Solutions, says she looks forward to the next phase in Tech Girlz’ continued growth. Companies like SAP and Comcast and universities including Drexel and Harvard spent last year teaching TechGirlz material.

“We expect to have 20 more companies and organizations, and to teach 1,000 more girls this school year,” she says.