Productive Edge Partners with TechGirlz to Inspire the Next Generation of Women in STEM

07/08/2022 Chicago TechShop

Through the volunteering initiative PE Cares, Productive Edge hosted a TechGirlz workshop on Friday, July 8th at their Chicago headquarters. TechGirlz is an organization for middle school girls to learn technology skills and explore technology topics to empower their future careers through free interactive workshops led by industry professionals.

“I love the idea of getting women started in technology at a young age and showing them that it could be a great career path for them in the future,” said Chase Schneider, a co-leader of the workshop.

Seven employees volunteered during the You Can Code workshop with 14 TechGirlz participants. The company provides paid Volunteer Time Off as a benefit to encourage employees to volunteer in their communities and with causes they care about.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching, and this was a great opportunity to impart some of my technology knowledge and excitement to a young generation. I’m grateful that PE provides me the opportunity to continue to teach as a full stack developer working on software applications,” said Dmitri Larionov, a co-leader of the workshop. “The prospect of seeing the spark of understanding and excitement in another’s eyes and knowing that I had a part in it is all the reward I needed to take part in such an awesome experience.”

The workshop began by helping TechGirlz participants understand where they can find code in their daily lives—it’s everywhere! Next, foundational concepts like conditional statements were explored by practicing a few examples. Once the participants were confident with conditional if and else if statements, they learned programming basics through interactive visual games from Blockly that not only develop coding skills but also show how the JavaScript looks in text form when each level is complete.

Volunteers helped participants through the puzzles and games, but many got through the levels on their own. Several of the advanced levels were worked through as a group—volunteers explained how collaboration and problem solving as a team are common occurrences in their daily jobs.

“My favorite part of the event was watching the girls work together and lean on each other for support through the challenging activities,” Schneider said.

It was important to not only teach them about programming, but also empower them to ask questions and get support from others with confidence. TechGirlz participants received a certificate after the completion of the 3 hour workshop.

“The possibility that I played a role in someone’s decision to pursue STEM knowledge is certainly a very appealing concept for me. Most importantly, the industry of writing code is heavily dominated by white males and knowing that I may have put a drop in the bucket of swinging things to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive technology industry is certainly something that I’m happy to be a part of,” Larionov explained.

Productive Edge has hosted two prior TechGirlz events and look forward to hosting more in the future.

Charity Name
CompTIA Spark
Photo Caption
07/08/2022 Chicago TechShop
Photo Credit
Productive Edge