Preparing Young Women to Rule the Tech World

By January 12, 2016October 30th, 2020Innovation
Independence Blue Cross supports the mission of TechGirlz in Philadelphia to inspire middle-school girls to become interested in technology careers.

Collaborations like the one with TechGirlz are just one way that our Center for Health Innovation is working to solve challenges in health care and making the community we serve a better place to live, work, and play.

Although more doors are opening for women pursuing technology careers, there’s still a lot we can do to get young women excited about opportunities available in this booming field.

That’s where TechGirlz has stepped in. Through workshops and an entrepreneurial summer technology camp, this Philadelphia nonprofit is inspiring middle-school girls to be tomorrow’s tech leaders through hands-on experience and access to women with established tech careers.

We recently jumped at the chance to welcome 15 middle schoolers to our Center for Health Care Innovation for a TechGirlz workshop, featuring a few of the talented women in tech at Independence Blue Cross:

  • Laura Barnes, Business Systems Analyst, Operations
  • Kim Siejak, Director, Customer Information, Informatics
  • Kendal Wilkins, Lead Business Systems Analyst, Business Technology Services
  • Meg Russel, Project Manager, Business Technology Services

How Do We Make Girls Passionate About Pursuing Tech Careers?

To start the day, each of our tech professionals shared stories of their career path and gave the girls three of their top tips:

  1. Get yourself out there as much as possible – Talk to people, ask questions, don’t be afraid.
  2. Be honest with yourself, and be open to new opportunities.
  3. If you really want this, you can do it!

While these tips were provided in the context of a technology career, they could easily be applied to any young woman looking to get ahead in any line of work.

Solving Real-life Challenges Through Innovation

For the second half of the day, our Director of Innovation, Michelle Histand, led the girls through a hands-on exercise in Human-Centered InnovationSM, giving them the chance to use logic, imagination, intuition, and reasoning.

She explained that businesses must keep changing to continue to thrive, using the example of Blockbuster, which none of the girls had heard of because of the popularity of other media services like Redbox and Netflix.

Then, the girls followed the Independence approach to innovation of gathering insights, designing ideas, and prototyping to develop ideas around increasing wellness in teens through nutrition and exercise.

Teaching Lessons That Will Last a Lifetime

It’s a pretty good sign that, despite being enrolled in the workshop by their parents, the girls had such an incredible time that they didn’t want to leave at the end of the day!

Collaborations like the one with TechGirlz are just one way that our Center for Health Innovation is working to solve challenges in health care and making the community we serve a better place to live, work, and play.

 

 

Anna Johnsrud

About Anna Johnsrud

As a member of the Corporate Development and Innovation team at Independence Blue Cross (IBX), Anna has been involved in advancing the organization’s human-centered innovation approach through leading project teams through IBX’s methodology to solve critical challenges, assisting in the creation of programming, and ensuring communication of key innovation activities. Anna knows and understands the importance of keeping our members at the center of all we do. She loves using creativity and energy to tackle anything that comes her way. She has been with IBX since 2008 in a variety of roles in Strategy and Corporate Planning before joining the Innovation team in 2012.