Empowering Girlz to Pursue STEM
Tech Sassy Girlz Helps Middle and High School Girls Discover the Fun Side of STEM
Every 26 seconds a student drops out of high school. This startling statistic was the impetus for Laine
Powell, M.Ed., MSM to establish Tech Sassy Girlz (TSG). TSG was created in 2012 to change this
unsettling fact and develop a pipeline for future women leaders in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM) fields. To date, the nonprofit organization has touched the lives of 700 middle and
high school “girlz,” awarded nine scholarships and logged over 1,000 volunteer hours.
One of their signature outreach programs is the annual Tech Sassy Girlz Day Conference, which is
scheduled for Saturday, October 21 from 10am – 4pm at the College of Engineering & Computer Science
at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The conference was created to improve awareness of
education, career opportunities and services for middle and high school girls by increasing participation,
retention and advancement of girls and women in STEM.
Presented by Oracle Academy and powered by Ford, the 6 th annual conference will provide hands-on fun
tech demonstrations, engineering design challenges by NASA, a UCF campus tour, as well as the chance
to network with women technology business leaders to learn more about STEM careers. It also includes
a special session geared specifically for parents and a special Ford Tech Trek talk and vehicle immersion
featuring the new 2018 Ford Mustang.
“Ford is proud to partner with Tech Sassy Girlz and the great work they do in inspiring young girls to Go
Further in Tech, while also exploring the possibilities for their future in the world of STEM,” said Raj
Register, Manager, Brand Strategy and Growth Audiences, Ford. “As an African American woman and
engineer, I’m proud to be part of a life-changing program that not only mentors and motivates our
youth, but encourages them to believe they can achieve their dreams.”
According to national research, in 2018, 8 million STEM jobs will be available in the United States, but
the vast majority of U.S. students will be unprepared to fill them. 51 percent of all STEM jobs are
projected to be in computer science-related fields. The Federal government alone needs an additional
10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals, and the private sector need many more. STEM fields are at
the core of the nation’s innovation.
“I’ve always had the passion for working with students and the dream to empower young women to
pursue STEM careers. Thus, I founded Tech Sassy Girlz in 2012 and the rest is history. Our programs are
sparking interest in young girls that will open doors and expand their vision. We are cultivating the
innovators, makers, entrepreneurs and pioneers of the future,” says Laine Powell, M.Ed., MSM, Tech
Sassy Girlz Founder.
In 2015, research showed that only 22 percent of students taking the Advanced Placement (AP)
Computer Science exam were girls, and only 13 percent were African-American or Latino students.
These statistics mirror the current makeup of some of America’s largest and more innovative tech firms,
where women comprise less than one-third of their technical employees, and African-Americans less
than 3 percent.
“Computer science and data science are not only important for the tech sector, but also for a growing
number of industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services, that are
using software to transform their products and services. In fact, more than two-thirds of all tech jobs are
outside the tech sector,” says Powell. “It gives students opportunities to be producers and makers, not
just consumers, in the digital economy, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world,” she
Computer science can help foster computational thinking skills that are relevant to many disciplines and
careers, such as breaking a large problem into smaller ones, recognizing how new problems relate to
ones that have already been solved, setting aside details of a problem that are less important, and
identifying and refining the steps needed to reach a solution. Conferences and events that foster STEM
by providing access to mentors and immersion are helping to inspire young girls. Tech Sassy Girlz
empowers and encourages middle and high school girls to pursue STEM fields through college
preparation, career readiness, and mentoring.
Featured conference speakers include:
- Luree Brown, Vehicle Operations Launch Engineer, Ford Motor Company
- Toshie Chatman, Senior Customer Support Account Manager, SumTotal Systems
- Tonya Farquharson, Acting CEO, Triad Isotopes
- Najah Hines, Service Manager, Wells Fargo
- Grace Johnson, Technical Project Manager, NASA
- Joy Meares, Principal Technical Support Engineer, Oracle Corporation
- Raina Yancey – Senior Technical Engineer, Oracle Corporation
- Ken Falana – Principle Technical Support Engineer, Oracle Engineered Systems Support Engineering
- Eric Hylick – Senior Technical Engineer, Oracle Corporation
- Dr. Karemah Manselle, Associate Director, Student Financial Assistance, UCF
- Candace Simmons, Work Program Consultant, Wells Fargo
The free conference is open to middle and high school girls and takes place from 10am – 4pm at UCF,
with lunch included. To register and obtain more details, visit the events section of the website at
www.techsassygirlz.org or email Khughes@techsassygirlz.org. Seating is limited so advanced
registration is required.