Technology Camp bridges gender gap for girls and computers

Technology Camp bridges gender gap for girls and computers

Twenty-five girls from middle schools in Milford, Stratford, Bridgeport, Fairfield and Norwalk are attending a free computer camp this week at Fairfield University as part of an effort to bridge the gender gap in a technology field filled predominantly by boys, with little interest from girls.

Though girls perform as well as boys on Connecticut mastery tests and other standard exams, far fewer girls seek out educational and career possibilities in computers. The computer camp, under the direction of its founder, Dr. Michael Zabinski, professor of physics and engineering at Fairfield, seeks to address this.

The Technology Camp for Girls is designed to bolster computer and leadership skills for girls entering the seventh grade in the five local school districts. Using Fairfield's state-of-the-art facilities, the students are learning about web page design, computer programming, Flash and Photoshop.

Liaison teachers selected the campers in each district and female counselors make up the majority of the staff serving as role models and fostering intergenerational, gender-affirming bonds. After finishing the camp experience, liaison teachers in the participating schools will organize computer clubs the girls will lead with their classmates.

The participating schools include Thomas Hooker School in Bridgeport, Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield, East Shore Middle School in Milford, Roton Middle School in Norwalk, and Flood Middle School and Wooster Middle School in Stratford.

The Fairfield University-based camp was made possible,in part, to a grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls. The foundation has awarded Fairfield University Professor Michael Zabinski's program a two-year grant of $7,752 to help fund the 2006 and 2007 camps for girls from Bridgeport, Norwalk, Fairfield, Milford and Orange.

The program has also received: a $2,200 grant from the Connecticut chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW); a $300 grant from the Bridgeport AAUW; a two-year $2,000 grant from The Harvey Hubbell Foundation; and $1,250 from Fairfield University.

Media are invited to learn more about the camp, which is in session this week from July 31 to Aug. 4. A hands-on view of the program may also be arranged any day during the week and an open house on Thursday, from 4 to 5 will take place in the McDonnell Atrium of the Bannow Science Center.

Posted On: 08-01-2006 10:08 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 6