Microsoft Ropes in Barbie to Get Girls into Computer Engineering; Launches Week-long DigiGirlz Program

Written By Sam on 27 November 2010

DigiGirlz is a program launched by Microsoft worldwide, expected to run for a week. The aim is to inform and educate high school level girls on the possibilities open to them in fields of technology. Technology workshops will be held and girls will meet Microsoft employees and understand in detail of the opportunities in engineering.

This is a drive by Microsoft purportedly to correct the gender ratio in science and technology employment field where, even today, majority of the work force is made up of men. Microsoft is teaming up with Mattel and Girl Scouts of Northern California to educate and inspire girls to go in for technology based career options. Current statistics show that women engineers in the US are below 10% of the workforce and only 18% have a degree in computer sciences. Microsoft will try to break the bogey that engineering and technology is only for men by this drive. In this endeavour they have roped in Mattel and Barbie, their flagship representative. Barbie appears as a computer engineer avatar complete with hipster glasses, tech gadgets and Bluetooth wireless headset.

The DigiGirlz program will showcase a window of what it is like to work at Microsoft, providing career planning assistance to girls, technological news and product demonstrations. The DigiGirlz program will enable participants to find out the career opportunities in a high tech field and plan for the future.

Microsoft recently held its first DigiGirlz meet in Silicon Valley with over 200 Girl Scouts, government officials, community leaders and Microsoft employees present. Of the 200 girls only 10% managed to complete the online training course and get a Computer Smarts badge. At the end of the DigiGirlz meet women belonging to the government and academic sectors gave brief lectures on methods to encourage girls to take up tech careers. Mylene Padolina, a Microsoft diversity consultant in charge of DigiGirlz reportedly said that their effort was to give girls a broad perspective of technology and Microsoft products, the position options that result in these developments and further highlighted the fact that this sector is not reserved for boys. Technology is for everyone, she stated quite emphatically.

Microsoft expects DigiGirlz to usher in a revolution, bringing in more girls and a fresh perspective to the technological sector. Did Microsoft give away a geeky Barbie to each participant at the Silicon Valley summit? We don’t know.

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