Collin College’s Women in Non-traditional (WIN) Careers initiative has been awarded a $23,245 grant from High Tech High Heels, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, to support female Collin County high school students pursuing information technology careers.

The grant will fund the recruitment of 20 economically disadvantaged incoming high school seniors interested in careers in information systems or computer systems, as well as providing career coaching, wrap-around services including tutoring to support retention, and resources to help them navigate their initial steps into post-secondary STEM education. The students will complete six hours of dual credit education in their chosen field before officially starting college and will be automatically accepted into Collin College in the information systems or computer systems field of their choice.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, nationally in 2017, women made up just 25.5 percent of individuals in computer and mathematical occupations and 16.2 percent of individuals in architecture and engineering occupations.

The WIN Careers initiative encourages high school women to pursue careers in high-demand, high-wage careers traditionally dominated by men. Graduates in information technology, construction management, fire science, welding, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) qualify for living wage positions with starting salaries as high as $60,000 per year, yet only about 34 percent of those positions in Collin County are currently held by women according to labor market data provided by JobsEQ.

Between January 2013 and April 2018 there were 190,758 IT job-related postings in Collin County. Software, cybersecurity and cloud computing professionals are in high demand. Collin College has implemented new programs and initiatives to respond to the needs of underserved populations, including women of color, in efforts to address their needs and that of the growing IT workforce field. The WIN Careers initiative is one of those programs.

High Tech High Heels was founded in 2001 by 30 women from Texas Instruments who were concerned with the low number of women graduating with technology-related degrees. Its mission is to increase the number of girls graduating from high school and entering a college-level degree program in STEM subjects.

Collin College serves more than 55,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degrees and certificates. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and workforce development. In addition, the college operates the Collin Higher Education Center, which serves 3,200 additional students each year in partnership with The University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Woman’s University, Texas A&M Commerce, Texas Tech and the University of North Texas.