For the fourth consecutive year, Symantec sponsored and partnered in the Dare2BDigital conference as a part of its Corporate Responsibility and Diversity initiative. The objective of the event was to provide 7th-10th graders an opportunity to discover the creative and exciting careers that await them in computer science and engineering.
At this year's conference, 200 teenaged girls explored careers in science and technology at this unique collaboration between technology companies, educators, parents and community organizations. The conference met its objective, as the survey results revealed that 99 percent of young women attendees felt that the conference maintained (17 percent) or increased (82 percent) their interest in fields that use technology.
Participating in conferences such as Dare2B Digital reiterates Symantec's commitment to building a long-term pipeline of technical women to meet the needs of tomorrow. I want to thank all of our volunteers from the Symantec Women's Action Network and facilitators who volunteered their personal time on the weekend in making this event happen. You have made a difference!
Catch the Phish and Digital Drama
For the first time, Symantec hosted a student workshop, called Catch the Phish and Digital Drama, which was developed by Marian Merritt, Symantec Director of Cyber Security Partnerships and led by Shu Zhang, Senior Manager, IT from Symantec. Using games, videos and group discussions, Shu and 12 Symantec volunteers taught girls how to avoid common Internet problems. Girls collaborated to spot treacherous e-mail scams known as phishing attacks. Using clips from teen-discussion groups and television, the girls discussed the concept of "digital drama" and the role gender can play in their online activities.
The Symantec workshop was very well received by the students, as 92 percent thought the Catch the Phish and Digital Drama workshop was "great" or "good." Participants said it was "very interesting and interactive" and "the videos were cool and learning about phishing was interesting." They also said it offered "interesting perspectives and valuable tips."
"I feel I learned from the girls more than I taught," Zhang said. "I learned many social networking apps and stories that I have never heard before. I was very inspired how strong, mature, independent and compassionate they are. It was a very satisfying volunteering event indeed."
Kids weren't the only ones who had the opportunity to attend workshops. Nehal Mehta, Symantec Director, Strategic Alliances, was MC for for the parent track, while May Mitchell, Symantec Vice President, North America Marketing, spoke on building trust in the digital age, a topic that focused on how to keep your family safe online. Mitchell covered how to create a positive digital footprint, protect your privacy and money, protect yourself from bullies and predators, and protect yourself from yourself. Other sessions focused on ways to encourage women to move into the technology field and tackling the costs of college.
"The Symantec employees who volunteered not only contributed but learnt a lot in the process," said Priya Rangaiah, Symantec Senior Principal SQA Engineer and a volunteer at the event. "This was indeed a very inspiring conference -- it allowed Symantec and volunteers to make a difference. What a great opportunity to share career journeys and inspire the next generation!"
Charmy Ruparel is Symantec's Global Diversity Program Manager.