Since 2013, Southern Utah Aspirations, a National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) chapter, has been conducting outreach projects to honor high school girls from rural and remote counties who are actively pursuing and interested in computing and technology.
The main goal of NCWIT Aspirations to is encourage high school students who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary for their computing-related achievements and interests, and encourages them to pursue their passions. Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, as demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education.
Dr. Shalini Kesar, associate professor of information systems at Southern Utah University, has been the driving force behind the Southern Utah Aspirations chapter since 2013.
“Outreach projects like these not only increase awareness but also show the female students the education and career opportunities in computing,” said Dr. Kesar.
Southern Utah Aspirations includes girls from across 20 counties in Utah and east Nevada. The program has grown to include Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Washington, Wayne, Grand, Carbon, Emery, San Pete, and Juab counties in Utah, and Lincoln, White Pine, Elko, Lander, & Eureka counties in Nevada.
In the last six years, more than 700 applicants from various high schools have applied to the free online competition. This year, with the support of parents and educators, 123 high school females competed, showcasing their talents, aptitude, and aspirations in technology and computing. There are a total of 80 NCWIT Aspirations within the USA, that are sponsored by various industries including Apple and Bank of America.
NCWIT Aspirations provides technical girls and women with ongoing engagement, visibility, and encouragement for their computing-related interests and achievements from high school through college and into the workforce. These opportunities allow women of the community to strengthen their leadership, technical, and entrepreneurial skills, further preparing and motivating them to participate in the computing workforce.
Shalini Kesar Professor of Information Systems
Specializing in management of electronic commerce, gender equality in computing, and disaster recovery