Raleigh, NC — A hands-on STEM program is attracting young women and girls to what has been a male-dominated career field.

ChickTech is a 2-day immersion program that introduces young students to STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

The program, which now has 10 active chapters across the country, began five years ago in Portland, Oregon, to attract more women to the technology workforce.

Software writer Kelly Curtin leads the program in the Raleigh-Durham area on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 at Meredith College.

“There was a woman who was tired of being the only woman in the room,” Curtin said. “And she realized that, because there aren’t a lot of women in IT, we needed a support system. We’re tying to target the students who really need us — who maybe haven’t had a lot of exposure to STEM fields.”

According to Curtin, ChickTech isn’t an “all female” leadership team. Men, including software engineer Joel Tatarka, offer vital support.

“There are definitely more women in the field than there have been in the past, but the ratio is still pretty much uneven,” Tatarka said.

In the upcoming workshop, students will learn how to build a robot from scratch. In another workshop, students will build “e-wearables” to learn about circuitry.

ChickTech leaders said they hope to tear down stereotypes many young women and girls may have about careers in IT, science or engineering.

“I’ve been in the industry for 31 years, and I’ve never been bored,” Curtin said. “And they pay phenomenally well.”

ChickTech will also offer workshops in different technologies from January through May. You can learn more online.