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September 8, 2004

UMBC Changing Information Technology World One Girl at a Time

On Tuesday, September 14, UMBC will formally welcome a new class of scholarship students from a program that has changed the lives and career directions of dozens of young women interested in information technology careers.

The Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) Scholars program at UMBC is dedicated to reaching girls as early as middle school to help them resist gender stereotypes and peer pressure as they pursue computer technology-related college majors and career tracks.

CWIT Scholars receive four-year scholarships and major in computer science, computer engineering, information systems, or a related program at UMBC. The students are mentored by faculty and successful IT business professionals, and participate in programs and internships throughout their college years. Graduates of the CWIT Scholars Program are expected to take a leadership role in the IT field and to foster the continued growth of women in the industry.

One of the new scholars is Lindsey Beaubien, of Gaithersburg, Md. Although she was accepted at Penn State and Virginia Tech, she says, "the only college I really considered attending was UMBC...I know that since I am in CWIT, there will always be somebody to turn to and ask for help."

Candice Scarborough, a third-year CWIT scholar, will address the incoming class. She confirms Beaubien's expectations, stating, "CWIT is the reason I remain a computer science major. CWIT is the reason I am still in college." Another third-year scholar, Heidi Brueckner, adds, "Even though my parents encouraged, even expected, me to excel, it was difficult to feel comfortable without any other girls in my classes" at Montgomery Blair High School. "I never had a strong female role model in IT until I...met my CWIT mentor. Meeting women in the IT field has definitely encouraged me to continue my studies."

The CWIT Scholars reception, to be held from 6 until 8 p.m. Tuesday evening in the Skylight Room of the UMBC Commons building, will also give the scholars and their families a chance to connect directly with corporate and government sponsors supporting CWIT's mission.

During the reception, AT&T will present a check for $50,000, their latest in a series of ongoing gifts in support of the program.

"Programs such as these help create confidence in women to help them achieve their potential in all professions, including the IT industry," said Jennifer Jones, Sales Vice-President, AT&T Business Services. "AT&T is delighted to make this important contribution to CWIT, providing invaluable support to the students and their families."

Maryland State Delegate Jean Cryor (R- Montgomery County), President of the Women Legislators of Maryland and another CWIT supporter, will discuss her work to pass a recent bill that established the Taskforce on the Status of Women and IT in Maryland, the first of its kind in the nation.

While recent studies show that female college students are gradually closing the tech gender gap, enrollment of women in college IT programs continues to decline. The CWIT Scholars Program at UMBC is designed to address this imbalance. The merit-based program is open to both women and men who support women's full involvement in information technology. The 11 entering students are the third and largest class of CWIT scholars to date.

The Center for Women and Information Technology (www.umbc.edu/cwit/) established at UMBC in 1998, has a four-fold mission: to encourage more women and girls to study computer science and/or information systems and to pursue careers in IT; to enable all women and girls to use IT comfortably and knowledgeably; to assure that the richness and breadth of women's lives and concerns are fully represented and readily available on the Internet; and to foster research concerning the relationship between gender and IT.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is a distinguished research university with a deep commitment to the education of undergraduates. The University was recently named one of the nation's 12 "Hot Schools" by Kaplan/Newsweek's How to Get into College, and is one of only 151 U.S. institutions to be ranked as "Doctoral/Research Universities Extensive" by the Carnegie Foundation.

AT&T (Corporate Sponsor). For more than 125 years, AT&T (NYSE "T") has been known for unparalleled quality and reliability in communications. Backed by the research and development capabilities of AT&T Labs, the company is a global leader in local, long distance, internet and transaction-based voice and data services.

Posted by dwinds1 at September 8, 2004 12:00 AM