Who Runs the World? Girls!
On June 16th, 2018, I attended the first ever GirlCon Chicago. Held on the Northwestern University campus, 250 girls and professionals were in attendance to learn about how technology relates to different fields of work. The goal of the GirlCon event was to encourage middle and high school aged girls to feel empowered in reaching their goals. More specifically in relation to the technology field in different areas of the workforce. The GirlCon team also wanted to shine a light on the lack of diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The conference consisted of different keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and panelists from different tech companies.
Two high school girls created GirlCon Chicago from the ground up. They wanted to help young women be successful in their career field. Molly Graton and Kyla Guru worked tirelessly for months to ensure they would put on the best conference possible.GirlCon 2018 was a huge success! Molly and Kyla got large companies to sponsor GirlCon including IBM, Baxter, and Pinterest. Some of the breakout sessions were led by professionals working for these companies. The breakout sessions consisted of several different topics like tech + design, tech + politics, tech + surgery, and tech+wildlife. Attendees got to choose two sessions that were most intriguing to them.
Tech + Wildlife
One session I attended was Tech + Wildlife led by Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf. Dr. Berger-Wolf works with technology to enhance her study of animal life. Berger-Wolf uses technology that allows for photos and videos were taken of whale sharks and other animals to be sorted through by robots on youtube to determine the specific whale shark seen. The goal of this is to keep track of each individual animal. On the website, you can get information about the most recent sighting of the animals and even give them nicknames. Dr. Berger-Wolf has also worked to give school children in Africa access to digital cameras to take pictures of the right sides of giraffes. With the pictures the children take, they can piece together the photos and gather an accurate census of the population.
Another highlight of the event was the tech panel. There were eleven women that spoke about their experiences with tech in the workforce. Half of them were recent college graduates. They answered questions and gave helpful advice to all the young women. Each of them had very different jobs but each one involved technology in a unique way. Many of these speakers mentioned they had not always wanted to go into tech. But they soon discovered the importance of tech to their career paths.
The Benefits of Attending GirlCon 2018
This conference was an incredible learning experience. It gave all of us the opportunity to understand how technology can enhance our future careers. The panelists, keynote speakers, and session leaders were inspiring and encouraging to those who are considering technology careers. Additionally, it was a fantastic way to build connections and find possible summer internship programs.
Dani Dresdner, Girls’ C.E.O. Connection™ Ambassador, 2018