ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 04/24/06 -- Inspiring middle-school girls to make a difference in the world through math, science and technology is behind IBM's commitment this year for conducting more than 50 EXITE (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camps that start this week and run through November.
More than 1,700 girls, ages 11-13 will take part in a variety of engineering and science-related projects at the week-long EXITE camps across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, sponsored for the eighth year by IBM.
"Traditionally, girls have shied away from taking math, science and technology courses because they didn't think they could excel in them, or thought the classes were unrelated to what they wanted to do in their lives," said Katherine Hegmann, IBM General Manager, Global Application Services, Global Business Services. "What many girls don't realize is that technology is providing opportunities for careers in virtually every field they could hope to pursue."
As part of this year's program, EXITE Campers will work in teams with IBM employee volunteers on innovation projects allowing the girls to realize the wealth of ideas and talents they possess that could make a difference in medicine, health care, agriculture, entertainment, consumer goods, environmental preservation or rescue and relief efforts. Each camp will document its innovations by creating a three-dimensional model, blueprint or presentation. The campers will get a chance to present their innovations to local IBM volunteers and executives who will in turn provide feedback.
"EXITE Camps have taught us over the years that when girls are given the chance to work on these types of projects and when they meet women role models using technology to establish successful careers or to help make this a better world, they begin to see the possibilities math, engineering and science present in a very different light," said Hegmann.
Since its inception in 1999, 85% of the more than 5,000 girls who participated in an EXITE Camp indicated that they would consider pursuing an engineering or technical-related degree when they go to college. This shift in perception is critical for companies that depend on technical talent to fill key positions in addition to being timely, as evidenced by a recent survey by the Society of Women Engineers, which indicated that 75% of girls, ages 12-17, do not plan to pursue careers in math, science or technology.
Approximately 2,000 IBM volunteers, women and men, will participate in the EXITE Camps, developing, coordinating and overseeing the innovation projects, as well as web and computer chip design, laser optics, animation, robotics and working with computer hardware and software. The volunteers will also introduce the campers to a variety of IBM technologies, including TryScience.org, an award-winning website designed to make learning more fun for kids.
EXITE Camp participants are nominated by counselors and teachers at middle schools that have an established relationship with IBM through such community outreach programs as Reinventing Education or MentorPlace, a global program where students receive online academic assistance and career counseling by IBM volunteers. At the conclusion of the EXITE Camps, the girls will take part in the MentorPlace program by being paired with IBM employees who will mentor them during the school year.
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with over 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a widerange of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about IBM, visit www.ibm.com.