State Farm’s Tech Astra Summit to Encourage Young Girls to Pursue STEM

The gender gap in computing is getting worse: In 1995 37% of computer scientists were women, dropping to 24% today. State Farm is taking action with a new STEM summit to engage girls in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Registration is open until Sept. 18.

State Farm wants young women to know that the “stars aren’t out of reach.”

Registration is now open for the insurance giant’s Tech Astra Summit, a new event dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. The summit is geared toward educating young female students on opportunities in the world of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Girls Who Code found that in 1995, 37 percent of computer scientists were women. Today, that number is only 24 percent.

The national nonprofit notes that the “biggest drop off of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17.”

The hope with Tech Astra is that attendees will leave inspired and motivated about STEM—and ultimately, that they’ll play a role in cultivating a community that fosters learning and personal development for all.

“By empowering girls to explore their interests and skills with a network of their peers,” State Farm says, “we will open the door to a strong future for women in STEM.”

[Photo: State Farm]

The generation for the event dates back to 1999, when the Women and Technology employee group at State Farm collaborated with Illinois State University to create Millennium Girls, a technology conference for young women.

This year, the conference pivoted to Tech Astra, meaning “star,” which broadened its reach to audiences beyond Bloomington, Illinois.

All presentations and labs at Tech Astra are led by women. Two bold, female leaders from State Farm will kick off the 2021 summit: Ashley Pettit, the SVP of Enterprise Technology and chief information officer, and Margo Hodges, enterprise technology executive.

Virtual STEM event

Girls receive an Interactive 360-degree experience that can be turned into an AR experience when they sign up for the event. [Photo: State Farm]

The one-day virtual event aims to eventually shape the future of STEM. Attendees from across the country aged 4th-8th grade will engage in hands-on labs, learn from State Farm execs about IT and innovation, and socialize with those who share their STEM interests.

The Challenger Learning Center, located at Heartland Community College in Illinois, will be teaching participants how to create casein plastic using ingredients from their refrigerator. (This is the same plastic used to make jewelry for Queen Mary of England in the 1500s). The Challenger Learning Center is dedicated to STEM education, exploration, and discovery.

Registration is open now until Sept. 18—but hurry, space is limited. Tech Astra will be held on Zoom on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Next year, State Farm plans to expand the age range offering to include high school students and mentoring opportunities.

[Photo: State Farm]

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