Explore IT is an interactive conference for grade nine girls to explore the exciting world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics(STEM). Leading edge institutions and corporations work together to increase girls’ awareness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and related career options that will inspire them and help shape their potential futures. Using state of the art technology at Mount Royal University, SAIT Polytechnic, and the University of Calgary, the girls participate in hands-on sessions in areas such as multimedia, networking, cinema, television, Java programming, robotics, geomatics, web page design and so much more.
With one main goal, Explore IT was created to increase young women’s awareness of the opportunities available in the STEM fields as they begin to make their career decisions and plan for the future. Through interactive workshops, information sharing and keynote speakers, grade nine girls from Calgary and the surrounding area are given a sneak peak into the tantalizing world of high tech.
Grade nine was chosen as the target age, as it is a critical career decision-making year for girls who are about to enter high school. The Conference experience helps reinforce the importance of selecting science and math precisely at the time when girls are making curriculum decisions that will impact their future career choices and options.
The past 16 Explore IT conferences have aided over 7500 girls in enhancing their awareness of the rewarding opportunities available in STEM. After attending Explore IT, there is an increased optimism that girls may follow a path to a career in related fields of study. In 2015, over 75% of participants in the Conference indicated that they would consider pursuing such a career.
The demand for individuals with an STEM background is increasing throughout the world. In Alberta, it is projected that there will be labour shortages in all, or virtually all STEM occupations. As we struggle to educate the workforce to fill these career demands, it is essential that the Calgary community invests in Alberta’s youth in order to nurture a highly skilled workforce that will give our province a competitive advantage in world markets.
Explore IT focuses on introducing young women to career possibilities in STEM. Women are underrepresented in the these fields and while females represent 56.4% of university enrollment and 52.5% of college enrollment, only 23.4% of workers in STEM occupations are female. Along with engineering and technology programs, ICT programs experience very low female enrollment.