MISSION — In their latest push to promote education in information technology, Mission is tapping into one of their biggest resources: women.
The Mission Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced a new program — Web of Women — that will offer free computer and technology classes to women.
“This came about because we knew there was this lack of involvement by women in the tech scene,” said Cristina Garza, the MEDC program director, citing the lack of programs for older women with full-time jobs who would like to explore careers in IT. “I wanted to create this program with the intention of being welcoming to those women who are professional, who want to have that professional development, and may not necessarily want to go and get a computer science degree.”
The program will begin Oct. 17 and last for five weeks, during which 15 students will take a CompTIA IT Fundamentals Certification course which will teach them about networking, cybersecurity essentials, and hardware and software basics.
CompTIA, Garza said, is the largest certifying agency for IT professionals in the world.
“(With) this certification basically an employer would know exactly what that person learned,” she said.
The classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings — from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — at the Center for Education and Economic Development. All class and exam costs will be waived for the selected participants.
Anyone wishing to participate can apply online at wowmissionedc.com by Sept. 30. The application requests basic personal information, a reason why they’re interested in the class, and how much knowledge they already have. However, preference will not be given to people with more knowledge.
“The ideal audience would be people who normally use computers in their daily lives,” she said. “If there’s someone who’s working and uses a computer at work, then they have enough knowledge to be taking this class.”
This is just the first of several courses that are expected to be taught as part of the initiative. The program will expand into other subjects while continuing to offer the certification course several times a year.
“While this is our launching program, this is by no means the only class that will be offered,” Garza said. “We also want to start having social events and start having opportunities for women to start exploring other careers within the tech sector.”
Another goal of the initiative is simply to create a comfortable and safe environment to come together. She said the hope is that more women begin to feel comfortable and confident in their understanding of IT.
“I want to emphasize how important it is for us to recognize the economic potential that women have that often gets overlooked,” Garza said. “It’s such an incredible resource and part of our population that I want to make sure that they’re getting the type of support that they need to continue to contribute to the economy.”