By Anna Lin
Fifteen Minnesota high school girls received recognition for their technology‐related achievements and interests last month.
The second annual Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Awards program honors young women in grades 9 – 12 by recognizing girls and young women for their computing and programing knowledge and plans to pursue IT jobs after graduation.
Six winners and seven runners-up (including 11 from the Twin Cities) were chosen. Two Minnesota students – Tarissa Jackson from Savage and Ananya Mishra from Maple Grove – were named national runners-up of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing award.
This honor given to only the top 15 percent of applicants in the nation from an applicant pool exceeding 2,600 young women across the country.
According to Advanced IT Minnesota, the award presenter, women hold only a quarter of computing occupations in America.
“It’s really hard to get women in the field,” Sue Simonett, chief technology officer of General Mills, said. “I want to make sure other women know it (IT) is a great career.”
Simonett said the award program teaches young talented women the value of IT careers and the many directions they could take within the industry.
Ananya Mishra, national runner-up from Wazaya High School, said, “It really makes you feel good about yourself.” Mishra said winning the award has motivated her to work even harder. She said she enjoyed playing educational computer games as a kid and has always been curious about how games are developed and how special effects in movies are produced.
Mishra said she got “a wake-up call” when a teacher recommended she compete in the Aspirations award competition.
“The Aspirations award is a way to show women who are detail-oriented, creative and adaptable to change how a job in the IT industry might be perfect for them,” Simonett added.
General Mills will host the Aspirations award event on April 29 at its company headquarter in Golden Valley. You can find the list of winners here.