Information Technology Research Institute Hosts Girls in IT Event

Professionals discuss opportunities in information technology during the 2015 Girls in IT event held in Little Rock on Dec. 4.
Photo by Ryan C. Versey

Professionals discuss opportunities in information technology during the 2015 Girls in IT event held in Little Rock on Dec. 4.

The Information Technology Research Institute at the Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted a Girls in IT event in Little Rock on Dec. 4 to introduce information technology careers to high school girls. Sponsored by Acxiom and Dillard's, the event was held at Acxiom's offices with more than 120 young women from 18 Arkansas high schools attending.

"The purpose of Girls in IT is to expose and encourage young women to pursue career opportunities in the field of information technology where women are grossly under represented," said Eric Bradford, managing director of ITRI. "This event has been held twice in Northwest Arkansas with much success. Holding it this year in Little Rock enabled students from southern and central Arkansas to attend."

The first activity of the event was a matching game to align information technology job titles, job descriptions and salaries. The selected jobs reflected the variety of career paths available in the field. Janet Cinfio, senior vice president of Technology Operations and chief information officer at Acxiom, served as the keynote speaker and participated as a mentor in a small group activity.

A panel discussion featured Beverly McDaniel, an instructor in the Walton College Department of Information Systems, Brandy Mitchell from Arvest, Maiga Bishop from Dillard's, Rita Carney from Walmart, Abbie Sims from Idestini and Michelle Talley from Acxiom. Helena Gadison, vice president of Sales and Merchandising, International Intimates, moderated the discussion.

"What's the word on the street about IT?" asked Gadison.

Many attendees indicated they haven't heard about technology career options. This event was the first exposure a majority of the young women had to information technology opportunities.

Attendees participated in a small group project led by Susan Bristow, clinical assistant professor, Walton College Department of Information Systems, to create technology ideas to improve learning, lives or business. High school educators and professionals from Acxiom, Dillard's, ABC Financial and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield mentored 20 different groups of girls.

Tara Carr, a University of Arkansas admissions counselor, Brande Flack, associate director of the university's Center of Multicultural and Diversity Education, and Barbara Lofton, director of the Walton College's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, shared information regarding admissions and the ACT Academy, which is hosted each summer at the University of Arkansas.

"These bright young women had innovative ideas and tremendous energy," said Lofton. "Seasoned technology professionals and faculty members were on hand to show them the possibilities."

For more information regarding the Information Technology Research Institute, visit itri.uark.edu.

Contacts

Lori McLemore, marketing and communications officer
Sam M. Walton College of Business
479-575-5021, mclemore@uark.edu


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