HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Willa Eisenhauer is having fun playing a spirited game of Jeopardy!.
“Interesting facts, 400,” she selects a category and dollar amount.
Eisenhauer is only in the sixth grade, but the G.H. Moody Middle School student already knows what she wants to be when she grows up.
“I’m really interested in aerospatial engineering,” she explains. “Mostly, I think airplanes and aerodynamics are really cool.”
Eisenhauer is joining 32 other students from Moody, Johnson Elementary School, St. Gertrude High School and Franklin Military Academy for ‘Girl Power Technology Day’ at Cisco Systems.
It immerses participants in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. This year students from third through eleventh grade attended the annual event at the global software company’s Henrico location.
“We just don’t have quite the representation of women in technology today, and women are as much consumers of technology as men are,” says John Rivers, an Enterprise Client Executive at Cisco Systems. “So certainly they should be as much a part of the technology field.”
Adds Eisenhauer, “Women use tech too, so they should be part of the design of it so it can fit their needs as well as men’s needs.”
Through games and workshop, students who take part in Girl Power Technology Day can learn the education they need to pursue certain career paths, salary information and day-to-day responsibilities.
Natalie Maurer, a St. Gertrudge Sophomore, is interested in Engineering or Math.
“I think it’s a growing industry and not only is it cool to participate in, but you learn so much about the world and it connects the world in such a big way,” she describes the appeal of STEM.
Some surveys show only about 30% of people holding STEM positions are women, and Rivers says Girl Power Technology Day aims to create a balance in the workplace for the next generation.
Girls who participated in Henrico County had a chance to connect via video-conference with students attending similar sessions at 100 Cisco offices in 40 countries.
Together the girls are the future of STEM, and that future begins now.
“Hopefully they’ll see some role models that they might want to consider following,” says Rivers with a smile.