In their latest push to promote education in the field of Information Technology, the Mission Economic Development Center is offering IT classes to women.
The MEDC announced a new program — Web of Women — that will offer free computer and technology classes to women.
“The program originated from wanting to provide more opportunities for women to get involved in IT,” MEDC Program Director Cristina Garza said. “We’ve noticed a lot of women wanted to increase their knowledge of computer science but they either didn’t know where to start or couldn’t find an outlet that accommodated their schedules. This seemed like a simple way to start getting women involved.”
The program began Tuesday, Oct. 17 and will last for five weeks, during which 20 students will take a CompTIA IT Fundamentals Certification course which will teach them about networking, cybersecurity essentials, and hardware and software basics, Garcia said.
According to Garcia, CompTIA is the largest certifying agency for IT professionals in the world.
“The majority of the women in the program already have jobs and they just want to make sure their knowledge of computers is up to date,” Garcia said. “With the skills gained from this course, they can apply it to any field. We are living in a time where technology is an integral part of the workplace and to have that certification validates their understanding of technology. We want students to feel like they have the tools to continue to grow.”
The classes will run Tuesdays and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the computer lab in the Center for Education and Economic Development – located on the corner of Bryan Road and Businesses 83. The program will waive program and exam fees for all participants, Garcia said.
The instructor of the program is Stephany Lopez, a computer engineering major at UTRGV who is certified with CompTIA as an instructor, according to Garcia.
The program was announced Wednesday, Sept. 20 and participants had until Sept. 29 to apply for the program, Garcia said. The application requested personal information, a reason why they’re interested in the class and how much knowledge they already have. From the 50 applicants, 20 participants – who ranged from college students, business owners and realtors – were selected.
“Once the application closed down people kept contacting us, even in person, asking to be allowed into the program,” Garza said. “That kind of overwhelming response meant we’re doing something right. It’s encouraging to see such a positive response because it validates what we’re doing to include everyone in that picture. We’re making sure everyone can advance professionally.”
Due to the number of people still expressing interest in joining the program, Garza said the MEDC will begin a second round of Web of Women in January with 25 of the women who were turned down from the first class automatically being admitted into the program.
“We know diversity is crucial to the success of companies; there’s data that proves that if you have a diverse team you have an environment that produces better ideas and results,” Garza said. “We’re not doing this program for the betterment of companies, though it is a result of what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re making sure we’re not neglecting a huge part of our population. This is about creating an environment where we’re inviting and welcoming for women who don’t feel catered to in technology.”