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Reaching the High School Girls Who Didn’t See Themselves in Tech

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An Architect in the Classroom

Season 3 · Episode 16

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Description

Among the various STEM education organizations that have developed throughout the last several years, there is ChickTech. The local Austin chapter of the nonprofit began just a few years ago, and Dana DeFebbo, its Assistant Director, discusses how ChickTech Austin reaches out to high school girls who might not have had opportunities in tech. Dana talks about the challenges and rewards of running an all-volunteer program like this and her hopes for its future.

Our closing music is “Yes And” by Steve Combs, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Subscribe and leave episode reviews wherever you get your podcasts. Support Pios Labs with regular donations on Patreon or by buying a copy of the reference book Engineer's Guide to Improv and Art Games by Pius Wong. You'll also be supporting educational tools and projects like Chordinates! or The Calculator Gator. Thanks to our donors and listeners for making the show possible. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of Pios Labs.

Transcript

Pius Wong  0:00 

Hear about how a nonprofit tries to get high school girls in need into tech, today on The K12 Engineering Education Podcast.

 

Pius Wong  0:15 

I'm Pius Wong. Recently I spoke to Dana DeFebbo, both a web librarian at the University of Texas and one of the local leaders of ChickTech Austin. I sat down with Dana during her lunch break to talk about ChickTech Austin's mission, its volunteers and even its name. Hear it next.

 

Pius Wong  0:42 

ChickTech Austin is one chapter out of almost thirty chapters of the national nonprofit ChickTech, based in Portland, Oregon. And the chapter in Austin, Texas, is starting its third year here.

 

Dana DeFebbo  0:55 

So my name is Dana DeFebbo. I'm the Assistant Director of the ChickTech Austin chapter. Our director is Nicole Burrata. I know Nicole got started with ChickTech...

 

Pius Wong  1:05 

Dana explained how ChickTech Austin started in that tried-and-true way, meeting people and building a team. Several years ago Nicole Burrata was on a business trip in Portland at OSCON. That's a big convention for open source software. At OSCON. Nicole met a computer engineer named Janice, Janice Levenhagen-Seeley to be exact. Janice is the founder of ChickTech national. The two hit it off, and soon Nicole started a ChickTech chapter in Texas. Now back to Dana. How did Dana get started with Nicole?

 

Dana DeFebbo  1:39 

I met her on a librarian social forum, because Nicole's a former librarian, so she was looking for volunteers. And so I answered that call, and the rest is history. But yeah, we we started about three years ago in November. It was just the two of us for a little while, and we've been slowly building up a leadership team.

 

Pius Wong  2:01 

That leadership team led to the kickoff of their high school educational program in November 2016.

 

Dana DeFebbo  2:13 

What we do is we, we reach out to area high school teachers and ask for them to nominate girls in their class or girls that they know. It doesn't necessarily have to be girls that they are currently teaching but former students that are between the grades of 9th and 12th grade, that have have shown an aptitude for math and science, but really haven't either had the opportunity or the interest or the confidence necessarily to pursue technology. So computer science, robotics, even some kinds of engineering. Either because, you know, there's -- The robotics club is all guys and they don't feel comfortable being the only girl or maybe there's like one girl in there, or it's just not something that's really on their radar. So we asked them to nominate up to 15 girls that they know to participate in the program. We're also looking mainly for girls who have really never done anything -- They haven't built an app or have not taken any kind of computer science technology class. And the other thing that we're also looking for is girls who are kind of on the lower income spectrum.

 

Pius Wong  3:23 

So these are girls who probably have missed out on some opportunities that others have had.

 

Dana DeFebbo  3:28 

Yeah, usually, you know, their parents are not all college-educated, or even if they are college-educated, their parents just aren't on, you know -- don't really know a lot about technology and aren't able to really advise them on pursuing something like that. So what we are is -- The program is really an introductory program to what a career in technology would look like. And we have a very broad definition of what technology could be, so it's not necessarily software. It can be hardware. The programs or the instruction that we're able to offer is really just based on the people in the Austin area that are available to teach it. So Austin is a big software community. But we do have some people that are able to teach some hardware things, robotics. We've made some connections with people who are in biomedical engineering tech. So we're not looking at just computer science.

 

Pius Wong  3:28 

Because you, yourself -- You are a librarian, but you work with IT, information technology, but you make connections with all these other groups around Austin.

 

Dana DeFebbo  4:34 

Yes. So we do a lot of tabling. We send out a lot of emails. It was slow-going at first, but I think we've made a little bit of a name for ourselves. A lot of people have maybe heard of us before, you know, because when we first got started, it was a little bit frustrating because we really -- we had this program, this great program we wanted to offer but nobody really knew about us. So we went to like every tabling event that we possibly could, even if it didn't seem relevant, we just were like, Hey, this is who we are. But going back to the high school program, so we get teachers to nominate the girls to participate in this program. And so we gather -- I think the last couple years, we've gotten three to four hundred nominations, and then we send out an invitation to the girls, inviting them to register for the program.

 

Pius Wong  5:32 

Getting these couple hundred nominations of teenage girls to invite can be a challenge. Dana says ChickTech has a rule that girls cannot choose themselves to be in the program.

 

Dana DeFebbo  5:43 

Only because we really want the girls who have no idea that this would be good for them. And if the girls, you know, aware enough to be able to self select into the program, we're not not saying that they wouldn't benefit from it, but we're really trying to get the girls have no idea. So that's why we ask. And we also don't really, except for a few occasions -- We really ask that only teachers or mentors or coaches, someone that's not related to the student, nominates them. It doesn't necessarily have to be a teacher. Only because we feel that it's a little bit more special to a girl, or just a child in general, if someone other than their parent is saying, I believe in you, I think this would be great for you. If it's a parent, we feel like the girl may or may not be interested in doing it, because they feel like oh, it's something my parents want me to do. So yeah, that's why we don't let them self-select into the program. But so we actually print out the letters, and then we send the letters to an ambassador at the school. So a teacher who says, I will distribute these to the girls. So it's a physical letter that gets hand-delivered to them. But yeah, once they get the nomination letter, they can decide -- that's when they can basically self-select into the program.

 

Pius Wong  7:07 

And how many students end up choosing to enroll?

 

Dana DeFebbo  7:09 

We have room for about 100 girls. We are 100% volunteer-run, everything is funded through donations. So our capacity is limited by how much we can afford to provide. But about 100 girls, we can bring. We except a little bit more than that, because there's always going to be some girls who just end up not being able to, because of a sports event, or they just don't show up. Maybe they forgot, you know, but nearly 100 show up for the first kickoff weekend.

 

Pius Wong  7:44 

Dana explains that in the first kickoff weekend during the school year in December, the girls are assigned a workshop to go to based on their preferences. They have several workshop choices. So I asked Dana what some of the coolest ones were.

 

Dana DeFebbo  7:58 

They're all cool. The robotics one is really popular. They really love robotics. They build a little little rover that they can control with an app. There's actually a group of four UT students that have their own nonprofit for...

 

Pius Wong  8:14 

Like University of Texas undergrads?

 

Dana DeFebbo  8:15 

Yes. They started out -- Their first year with us, they were freshmen. So they're four girls, two of them are twins whose parents work in the industry. And so they were brought up with this, and so they're able to pay it forward, too.

 

Pius Wong  8:21 

I'm sure they're passionate...

 

Dana DeFebbo  8:31 

They're very passionate. Yeah, I think, you know, I don't know what their majors are, but some of them are computer science. But yeah, they come in and teach the girls to do robotics. It's really great to have. I mean, they're as close to our students' age as basically anyone because they're, you know, under 20. So it's really great to have particularly them teaching because the girls, they're a really great role model for them, because they're fairly young, and they can see what they're capable of. We have another one that was digital filmmaking that the girls love to do. It's kind of a combination of technology and creativity. That's another thing too, is like, we're really trying to show girls that technology is everywhere. Like you don't have to be a computer scientist to work in tech. You can do UX, you can do graphic design. So there's a lot of -- if you have another passion, there's a chance you can combine that with technology if you're so inclined. And so we do Android app development. We have a developer from Microsoft, does wearable tech. Yeah, they create like a little smartwatch, I guess. Yes,  Low tech, but it's high tech.

 

Pius Wong  9:51 

The girls can continue to go to a four- to six-hour Saturday workshop, like the ones Dana described, until June of that school year.

 

Dana DeFebbo  10:00 

Yeah, so they do a monthly workshop. You know, they don't have to do it. We do ask them that they participate in at least one to two, after kickoff, and some girls after kick off, they're just like, this isn't really for me. It was fun, but I'm not really interested. And then we have some girls who go to every single workshop, you know, they really want to take advantage of the opportunity.

 

Pius Wong  10:27 

ChickTech Austin's team of volunteers faces certain challenges trying to serve more girls.

 

Dana DeFebbo  10:32 

Our main demographic are girls that are low income. A lot of times their parents aren't able to provide them logistical support, I guess, in terms of getting rides, so we try to remove that barrier. We provide transportation if it's needed. For all of our workshops, we also provide food for that. We haven't had anybody really take advantage of this yet, but if needed, we would coordinate for child care, either for sibling care -- A lot of girls are responsible for, you know, taking care of siblings while their parents work on the weekend, or, you know, a girl who may have a child of her own. We haven't had to do that yet, but it's something that we are prepared to do when needed. So again, we're trying to reduce the barrier as much as possible. And this past year, we started another thing called pop-up workshops, and the pop-ups are available to any girl in high school in the Austin area. We don't provide transportation for that one, because it's stretching our resources a little too thin. But it's intended for our girls to be able to invite their sister or a friend. So we open it up to our girls first, and then we advertise it with the schools, and like Girl Scouts, things like that.

 

Pius Wong  11:55 

What's been the effect? I know you mentioned that some girls might not be interested in the beginning, but then some girls loving it.

 

Dana DeFebbo  12:01 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  12:02 

What do you think the real impact has been?

 

Dana DeFebbo  12:05 

I think it's opened their eyes to -- Even if they don't continue on, I think it's opened their eyes to what the possibilities are available to them, to at least try to seek out advice from other adults in their life. I think a lot of times, people choose professions or what they're going to do with their life after high school, oftentimes based on lack of opportunity, but also just not knowing what's out there and not having someone in their life being like, you can do this. This is what's available. Here's how we can help, you know? So the other thing we started this year was a mentorship program. Within our cohort, that's what we call the girls who come in every year. And the girls can only participate for one year. So they can't go from from year to year, but the girls who have participated in past years are we allowed them come back as volunteers, so they can kind of still be involved. Our mentorship program was pretty successful this year. We did a very thorough job of vetting our mentors, and they kind of have a more one-on-one relationship with the girls that want to participate in that. That's a pretty rare opportunity. I think for a lot of people -- I mean, even someone like me, I feel like, this is one reason why I got involved in ChickTech and why Nicole also did and most everyone else, is that we would have really benefited from a program like this. Although I didn't come from a low-income family. I was fairly middle-class. My parents just didn't really know anything about technology. And I was always alone kind of tinkering on a computer. But, you know, there weren't a lot of resources available. And I didn't have anyone to really foster that. Not because they didn't want to, it just wasn't available. It wasn't there. Some girls can persevere, and they go and find their own opportunities. I think it's pretty rare for for anyone of any gender actually to go and do that. As far as we're still gathering data on what our actual impact is, so again, we're fairly new. So, you know, we're definitely in a data-gathering phase. But again, yeah, I think just exposing them does does a lot, just to encourage them.

 

Pius Wong  14:33 

And that's what a lot of people in the STEM education space have been saying: exposure and education and that you're doing seems to be really helpful.

 

Dana DeFebbo  14:41 

Yeah. And I think it's demystifying, too, the world of technology, in that -- Again, like, when I think people think of of tech, they think software, they think computer science, they think coding. Especially in Austin. And so even girls who even have it on their radar may not really understand...

 

Pius Wong  14:59 

They might have a limited view of what it is?

 

Dana DeFebbo  15:02 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  15:02 

In fact, what are some of those misconceptions that you've seen or that you've heard about? Do they come in...

 

Dana DeFebbo  15:08 

They think it will be boring.

 

Pius Wong  15:10 

Really?

 

Dana DeFebbo  15:10 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  15:11 

And you manage to convince him to come in that first day?

 

Dana DeFebbo  15:14 

Yeah. But some of them are just like little rebels, I think. They're like, I want to, I'm going to try something new, you know? And so they're kind of bucking their own suspicions about what it might be like. We actually had a girl last year, I think she was really interested in doing cosmetology or something when she was older, and she did the digital filmmaking workshop. And so she was like, I would have never thought I could or would be able to do this. And so it's really, maybe start thinking about maybe doing something different. Whether or not she goes into filmmaking or another tech -- Maybe she just adopts it as a hobby, but I think having technical literacy is advantageous to anyone whether or not they're working in a tech field or not. So just being able to be adept at figuring things out. Really, it's problem solving. That's ultimately, I think, what they come away with is learning how to problem solve in creative ways and using technology to solve a problem, when applicable.

 

Pius Wong  16:23 

Different initiatives, businesses, and organizations that target STEM and STEM education are cropping up around the country these days, including those targeting girls. I asked Dana what makes ChickTech Austin unique among them.

 

Dana DeFebbo  16:38 

So we are trying to fill a gap, I think, that exists with -- There seems to be a lot of push for education for younger students, middle students, middle-aged students. There's another program, a nonprofit, much more well-established than we are called Girlstart.

 

Pius Wong  16:59 

I spoke to them a little while ago. You're right, they're younger.

 

Dana DeFebbo  17:02 

They're younger. I think they stop in, like...

 

Pius Wong  17:05 

I think it's 5th or 6th grade.

 

Dana DeFebbo  17:06 

Yeah. So then there's, you know, a seventh and eighth, you know, there's a gap there. We would love to be able to expand our program. Our first year, we actually did accept eighth graders because we were new, and we really wanted to have a full class. So that worked out, but as we've gotten more established, we've kind of gone back to what our initial mandate is to do High School. But yeah, we're trying to fill a gap. Because I feel like once they get into high school, I think a lot of times people are like, Well, there you go, fend for yourself, you know, you can try to figure it out. You're an adult, even though you're like 13. So, I think there's a lot of there's a lot of disparity amongst the different schools. So, I think we definitely -- Especially the charter schools, like the charter schools, the teachers -- you know, we get thank you notes at the end of the school year being like, thank you so much for providing this, because you know, it's not something that they can they can offer to the extent that we do. It's provided an opportunity to people that wouldn't have otherwise gotten it.

 

Pius Wong  18:12 

That's so surprising to me, especially in Austin. That was one of the things I was wondering, too, because some people might think, hey, we've got Google and all these startups and Facebook, and not just software companies, but other engineering companies, hardware companies, and yet, some girls, some kids are not aware of the types of jobs that are out there.

 

Dana DeFebbo  18:33 

Yeah. They may be aware, but then they maybe think, well, that's not -- I couldn't do that. That's not for me. I'm not good enough. And Computer Science is hard. Engineering is hard. But I think sometimes people just need a little bit of a push to say, it's hard, but if you like it, keep going. You know, like sometimes people like the struggle, and I think struggle actually teaches people a lot, you know, if they have the fortitude to go through it, and I think, you know, everyone's situation is different. Again, we're trying to get the girls that wouldn't have self-selected into that program. And there's actually probably a few programs for girls who are aware of it and then have the means to get to it, and provide, you know, pay for any additional costs. Again, we don't charge the girls a penny for anything for their workshop the first weekend. Most of them have something that they can take with them. So either it's a website that they built or a film that they made. So those are virtual things that they took away from, but it's theirs. Or it's something physical that they can take away. And so the robot, they get to keep that robot. And we provide all of the laptops that we need. So one thing that is a little bit of a barrier is. a lot of girls, they learn all this stuff, but then they don't have a computer at home. So that's one thing that we really haven't been able to really address that well. We don't really have the means to buy a computer for them for them to have. But, you know, most schools do have a computer lab, so it'll be harder for those girls to keep going on at the rate that maybe some others would be if they had a laptop or a -- We do we do track these these statistics. I don't know if this is exactly right, but approximately 40% of the girls that participate in our program do not have a computer at home.

 

Pius Wong  20:41 

Adults not only our volunteers at ChickTech, getting background checked, transporting teams, running workshops, and being mentors for girls, but some adults are also served by ChickTech. Dana talked about their Women in Tech conference called ACT-W.

 

Dana DeFebbo  20:57 

We did it for two days two years ago, and so that's kind of where, for most of our event, adult stuff will be focused on at the ACT-W conference. Most of the chapters try to have an ACT-W conference every year or every other year. Since it's a lot of time and resources, it's hard for us as -- you know, we're volunteers, the ones who run the program. So as we get more people involved in our leadership team, we'll expand.

 

Pius Wong  21:31 

Can you talk about more about the adults involved? So you said there are volunteers. You also interact with teachers and educators and the professionals and mentors. Maybe one by one, how would volunteers get involved with you all?

 

Dana DeFebbo  21:47 

So yeah, we've got on our website, which is atx.chicktech.org. We've got a volunteer form. We look for instructors to teach either a workshop, the kickoff workshops. So it would be like a two-day, about 10-hour workshop over the two days.

 

Pius Wong  22:05 

You've got curriculum or projects already?

 

Dana DeFebbo  22:06 

No, we don't. So that's one thing that -- Again, it's a little bit more where, we're not locked into a curriculum, but at the same time, it can be difficult to find people who are willing to teach, because they don't have any experience building a curriculum or workshop. They have a subject matter expertise, but they're not really attuned to teaching and building a workshop.

 

Pius Wong  22:29 

Yeah.

 

Dana DeFebbo  22:30 

So yeah, but we do have Elena Winsler. She is our education expert, I would say, on our team. She works with the instructors on reviewing curriculum and coming up with active learning techniques and things to cover. But yeah, we do kind of rely on the instructor to at least come up with like a bare-bones curriculum, and then we can help them flush it out. Because they're the ones who have the knowledge. And so we just try to help them structure it in a way that the girls won't find boring. They don't like sitting. They don't like being talked at for a whole weekend or a day when they've been doing that all...

 

Dana DeFebbo  22:33 

Dana talked about how many of ChickTech's volunteers are not necessarily technical, or not content experts. For example, for that first kickoff weekend, she estimates they have...

 

Dana DeFebbo  23:26 

...over 100 volunteers working with us that come and do logistical things. There are room monitors. A lot of our instructors don't really know how to interact with girls or understand how to do classroom control.

 

Pius Wong  23:45 

Because they're not teachers necessarily.

 

Dana DeFebbo  23:46 

Yeah, they're not teachers. So they're teenagers. They get distracted. They can, you know, be disruptive sometimes. So having having teachers or people who maybe are parents of teenagers who know how to like be like, sit down, pay attention...

 

Pius Wong  24:02 

If you were looking for a certain type of person, somebody who can...

 

Dana DeFebbo  24:05 

Yeah. Well, I mean, we do a plushy, like a soft circuits workshop. They build -- They use the lilypad Arduino. And they build a gold plushie that lights up and plays music, and so we need volunteers that know how to sew. So you don't have to be tech -- You don't have to know anything about tech. I mean, if you don't know anything about it, we can still use volunteers. We are oftentimes doing tabling events, or we're talking to people to spread the word. So yeah, we look for all manner of volunteers. We actually don't have a lot of volunteers that are tech savvy to be teacher assistants or just help with the workshops to be able to answer questions with the girls. So a lot of times we just ask volunteers kind of follow along.

 

Pius Wong  24:53 

Despite all this Dana still says her nonprofit would love to have more technical people to rely on: software developers, engineers, and other tech professionals. We talked more about handling volunteers in Austin.

 

Dana DeFebbo  25:07 

It's one of those things that's a delicate balance, where we don't want too many volunteers for an event, because if everyone shows up, then we won't have a lot for them to do. But really, people who are interested in engaging girls, and just like, sitting alongside them and answering, helping answer questions.

 

Pius Wong  25:25 

Which may not be for everyone.

 

Dana DeFebbo  25:26 

It's not for everyone. No. I think sometimes we've had volunteers who are just -- They don't realize what what it is that they volunteered for, and they come and then they just kind of sit in the back of the room and, you know. So that doesn't happen often, but it does happen. So we try to balance it, but sometimes people volunteer, and then something comes up so they have to cancel, or they just forget, or you know, whatever. We also have -- One thing that we're really looking for is people to be transportation volunteers. That's been a difficult logistical thing for us to try to wrangle, especially for the monthlies. Because there's usually one or two, maybe three girls, but of course, one of them's in Round Rock, and one of them's in South Austin, and one of them's in Manor. And so we can't have one person picking all those girls up and driving them.

 

Pius Wong  26:20 

You're creating your mini Uber system.

 

Dana DeFebbo  26:22 

Yeah. So transportation volunteers are something that we really, really need.

 

Pius Wong  26:27 

It's so interesting that an education nonprofit organization has all these other issues to contend with that I wouldn't have thought about.

 

Dana DeFebbo  26:34 

Sometimes I feel like it's a part-time job that we have, the leadership team. Just thinking about other things just to accomplish our mission. It's a lot of logistical, a lot of project management, you know. Any one of our leaders has something that they're dealing with that you wouldn't think about until you're actually starting to do it. But yeah, the logistics does take up quite a bit. It's so funny. The girls -- One, just I think it's a result of whatever their personal situation is, but some of them don't have a phone. So it's trying to coordinate. Some of them, parents don't speak English. So it's like trying to coordinate with them, Okay, I'm going to pick you up at this time at this location. Just making sure that they got that email, like, a lot of times we don't get responses from the girls, but they got it. They don't think to respond to us to let us know that, yes, I compute, I understand exactly what my instructions are. So again, it's just dealing with teenagers. It's like, you know, most of us on our leadership team do not have children. So I think one that gives us the opportunity to give more of our time. But it's also like we don't have a lot of experience, personally dealing with with kids and teenagers.

 

Pius Wong  26:46 

Maybe you want parent volunteers.

 

Dana DeFebbo  26:57 

Yeah, if we can get some parents that have -- or parents of teenagers...

 

Pius Wong  27:59 

Who can deal with that.

 

Dana DeFebbo  28:01 

Sometimes we just need a mom in the room to kind of...

 

Pius Wong  28:06 

Of the participant?

 

Dana DeFebbo  28:06 

No, no, like, just someone who's used to commanding some kind of authority, you know? Using the mom voice to get them to pay attention. Yeah, there's a certain amount of authority I think that you learn when you're a parent versus when you're not a parent. I don't think -- Yeah, it's a little bit foreign for us that don't have children to try to wrangle the girls. [laughs] But yeah, most of the girls -- I mean, we have very few like behavioral issues that we deal with. Most of them are very happy to be participating. But yeah, I mean, just an excitement, just having them focus their attention. So that's why we love having teachers be volunteers. A lot of times the teachers that did nominate do participate and volunteer. And then corporate partnerships we really love. A lot of times tech companies give their employees -- There's a benefit for them volunteering to the organization. So we get money for their volunteer time. Apple gives the organization money for every hour that one of their employees spends volunteering. I think Microsoft does, too. Microsoft is a huge supporter of our program. And we've been really, really thankful.

 

Pius Wong  28:20 

They've been supporting a lot of different educational programs I've seen.

 

Dana DeFebbo  29:37 

Yeah. We have a particular volunteer at Microsoft that has been really, really amazing here in Austin. We've really benefited from his involvement. But yeah, we don't say no to anybody. The only thing -- And volunteer opportunities are open to people of any gender. We only restrict by gender for the participants of the actual high school program. And that includes girls, females, anyone who identifies as female as well.

 

Pius Wong  30:13 

So ChickTech Austin doesn't restrict their volunteers by gender, and its adult programs also serve all genders. But the high school program is restricted. The organization has had a few complaints here and there about that, Dana says, but the majority of people have been supportive. The organization also faced a little flak for something else.

 

Dana DeFebbo  30:38 

We've gotten some pushback about our name, too, like using the word chick and tech.

 

Pius Wong  30:43 

That's right. The word chick in ChickTech. Should we be down with that?

 

Dana DeFebbo  30:48 

Yeah, basically, our response to that is that, you know, women are allowed to call themselves whatever they want, and we can identify ourselves as chick, and in a way we're trying to reclaim the word, that it's not something derogatory. It's something that we can use. And it's something that -- There can be femininity in tech. And this is kind of the way that we introduce it. I mean, our colors are pink and teal and brown. So we try to fall on sort of a neutral spectrum when it comes to that branding. But yeah.

 

Pius Wong  31:25 

That's fair.

 

Dana DeFebbo  31:26 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  31:32 

What do you think the future is with ChickTech Austin?

 

Dana DeFebbo  31:36 

I hope that we can grow exponentially. It would be great for us to be able to get enough resources where we can actually have a dedicated person running it rather than a volunteer. All of us volunteering, we we really like it, but we can see the benefit of somebody spending full-time fundraising and developing and making partnerships. So we'd really love to be able to expand to a middle school program, as well. But again, it's just limited by, the more programs we have, the more people we need to run them. So managing even, with us trying to manage, our leadership team, can be time consuming. But I really hope that the girls that participate in our program actually pursue something. It's something that it would be hard to actually collect data on, but I'm hoping that eventually we can do a longitudinal type study and reach out to the girls that have participated, see where they are in five years and ten years, and feel that we made some kind of impact on what they have chosen to do and hopefully increased the quality of their life with it. Technology has a high-income potential. There's high income potential. And I'm hoping it'll maybe break some of the girls out of growing up in poverty and trying to set them off. Even the girls who are not, you know, it would be -- We really want to see more women in tech. Right now there are more women in tech than there used to be, but not by much. And a lot of them don't stay in tech, because again, this culture of just women not really feeling comfortable in a male-dominated space, and I'm hoping it'll eventually change the culture. You know, a lot of companies have successfully changed their culture, but most haven't. So it'll be something that I'll be interested to see.

 

Pius Wong  33:53 

I look forward to following up with you and everything that your team knows.

 

Dana DeFebbo  33:57 

Thank you so much for having me.

 

Pius Wong  33:59 

Thank you, Dana.

 

Dana DeFebbo  33:59 

Yeah.

 

Pius Wong  34:00 

We'll hear more from you later.

 

Dana DeFebbo  34:01 

Great.

 

Pius Wong  34:05 

Dana DeFebbo is Assistant Director of the Austin chapter of ChickTech. Want to learn more about ChickTech, ACT-W, Arduinos, or anything else you heard today? Check the show notes for links. You can also visit the podcast website for more. Check it out at k12engineering.net.

 

Pius Wong  34:27 

Help me share the show. Leave a rating review or comment on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, the Public Radio Exchange PRX, or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook. And if you're in Austin, let's grab a coffee some time. Finally, a special thank you to my supporters on Patreon. Once again, you make this show possible. I couldn't do it without your support. So if you would like to support the show, too, because you aren't doing it yet, just go to my Patreon page for my studio. It's patreon.com/pioslabs. A link to the Patreon page is also on the show notes and website.

 

Pius Wong  35:09 

Our closing music is from the song "Yes and" by Steve Combs, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast is a production of my independent studio Pios Labs in Austin, Texas, where I work on several digital projects like this show. You should check them out. Thank you for listening, keep on engineering, keep on educating, and listen again soon.