Closing the Gap: DigiGirlz Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Omnitech, a South Dakota software engineering firm partnered with Microsoft to hold their second annual DigiGirlz day at the University Center in Sioux Falls on March 7th. Around 100 middle school and high school girls from across South Dakota had an opportunity to learn about potential careers in technology. They were exposed to things they wouldn’t typically see in their regular classroom. Lake Preston High School 9th grader, Milliana Waikel, experienced what it would be like to be a surgeon by controlling a surgical robot.

“It’s fun, you learn a lot of new things,” said Waikel.

Technology is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation.

“The computer science industry is blowing up right now. We can’t find enough qualified people to actually hire, so it’s important for us to reach out to everyone, boy, girl it doesn’t matter. We want everyone to come into our field,” said Omnitech Partner, Chad Vondra.

However, Vondra says his company especially wants to see more women getting involved as women think differently than men. 

“Females do have a propensity to be higher or score higher in the areas of science and math, and we need those young minds in our industry to compliment what we already have in order to grow,” said Vondra.

Through events like this, he hopes to close the gender gap often created by stereotypes.

“Breaking that barrier of thinking that males are the only ones that can program, males are the only ones that can go down the computer science route,” said Vondra.

Many girls learned how attainable these careers actually are. At first the surgical robot looked complicated to Waikel, but now it’s given her confidence.

“Because I’ve learned more about it and I actually understand what’s going on,” said Waikel.

The girls also had a chance to sit down with female professionals who are successful in different tech fields. As well as talk to representatives from different universities to get them thinking about what degrees they could pursue in college.


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