On Friday, March 17, hundreds of high school girls from Rhode Island gathered at the New England Institute of Technology for a day of all things tech. From media production workshops to 3D Paint tutorials from the Microsoft Store to inspiring speeches by Governor Gina Raimondo, it’s safe to say the event sparked the beginning of several computer science careers.

“Girls and women are half of the world’s population,” Raimondo said to a room packed with DigiGirlz. “They are half of the world’s brains, problem-solvers, leaders. This world cannot solve problems unless they are at the table. That’s why I started programs like CS4RI, partnering with Microsoft and other leaders to offer computer science in every Rhode Island school.”

Backed by Microsoft New England, Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI) is one of the strongest statewide computer science initiatives in the country. Their goal is to have CS taught in every Rhode Island public school by December 2017.

“Digital skills are an increasingly necessary component of success in the workforce—and that applies to women as much as it does to men,” Raimondo said. “Being surrounded by so many young women with such potential at DigiGirlz filled me with optimism, pride and excitement for Rhode Island’s future.”

The fervor from the young women was palpable that day, and behind doors with signs that read “DigiGirlz: No Boys Allowed,” eyes were wide with curiosity. Microsoft Store staff had the girls bringing their imagination to life with 3D Paint, a new program that will be publicly available soon. Meghan Martinez, LTC Alyce Pagliarini and Julie Rinehart led a cybersecurity session, giving the girls valuable advice on how to stay safe online. The five other sessions involved digital media, mechanical engineering, Adobe Photoshop, Unity Program, and Multimedia Web Design.

After lunch, the girls learned about how they could #MakeWhatsNext and brand themselves online with Boston-based social media agency Metter Media. The social media session ended with a slew of giveaways, including the grand prize: a Microsoft Surface. The #DigiGirlzRI hashtag went wild all day long as the girls entered the contests by taking selfies and sharing their #MakeWhatsNext stories.

“The mission of DigiGirlz to provide middle and high school girls an opportunity to explore careers in technology is very important. As a society, we need to break the mold that STEM jobs are ‘jobs for boys’,” said Dr. Douglas H. Sherman, Senior Vice President and Provost at the New England Institute of Technology. “With the U.S. population being more than 50% female, we need more girls to study technology and to prepare themselves for the many high tech jobs that are or will become available as the baby boomers begin to retire.”

Our next DigiGirlz Day will be in Burlington, MA at our new Sales & Technology Center on Friday, April 28. View more photos from the event below!

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