Capitol Women’s Network Gears Service Project Towards Teaching Middle School Girls about Tech

Capitol Women's Network TechGirlz

BDBC’s Ryan Trecartin chats with TechGirlz participants for the Capitol Women’s Network service project in WRAL-TV’s Studio A on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

Fifty middle school girls in the Triangle recently got to learn about professional careers in technology and news thanks to a service project of the Capitol Women’s Network (CWN).  CBC created the CWN in 2016, to help women in our company connect and develop both professionally and personally.  And those women used their 2018 project to pass that support along to female students through a program created by the non-profit TechGirlz.

“I am so impressed and a little jealous of the variety of opportunities and subject matter that kids are exposed to today and at such young ages,” said AU Director of Events/Property Management Sarah Beck.  “I love that they were able to hear from and interact with all these intelligent and professional women and learn about what they do to help Capitol Broadcasting succeed. Listening to the panel of women speak and give advice and share about their life experiences was so invigorating, something we all need to hear, no matter what age.”

Inspiring the Next Generation of Women
NMG Account Executive Lisa Chappell coordinated the effort on behalf of CWN, as part of the group assigned to explore service project opportunities for the organization.

“I jumped at the chance to be on the committee to identify a service project for CWN,” she said.  “So many of the service projects I’ve been involved in here have been cleaning, digging, planting, building etc. Those are all genuine needs and great opportunities to serve, but I LOVED the idea of our CWN ladies utilizing their brains, education, and technical skills to influence younger women regarding their future and the role technology can play in a variety of career paths.”

CWN members volunteered in a myriad of roles from greeting the TechGirlz participants as they arrive, escorting groups to the studio, leading a tour of the newsroom, and teaching the key workshop, News Story Production.  The professional women interacted with the girls, serving as positive role models and examples of what the girls can hope to achieve.

Capitol Women's Network TechGirlz

ATC’s Sarah Beck helps TechGirlz participants get photos at the newsdesk on their tour of the newsroom as part of the Capitol Women’s Network service project on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

“We have an incredibly bright and accomplished group of women in CWN,” said Chappell, “and as we work to discover and tap deeper into our own strengths, the chance to encourage and inspire a new generation of women seemed a perfect fit with our mission of professional and personal development.”

The CWN members jumped at the chance to share their stories.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway,” WRAL-TV Account Executive Ayanna Carver told the TechGirlz participants.  “Be willing to step outside your comfort zone.”

Carver and a number of other CWN members interacted with the girls, sharing about their jobs and asking questions.

“I had the BEST time engaging with all the TechGirlz!” said Beck.  “What a remarkable group of young ladies! It made me feel like a kid again, and I already look forward to hosting them in Raleigh and Durham again soon.”

Good Writers and Spiders
After an enthusiastic welcome from AUD General Manager Shelly Leslie, Chappell moderated a panel of CBC female staffers from a variety of divisions to talk about their jobs and the technology they use.

“You always have to be willing to learn new things,” AUD Corporate Producer Anita Normanly told the girls.

Then Chappell asked the CWN panel what advice they would give to their younger selves.

“I would do an internship in college because it gives you the ability to explore options and see different parts of a company,” said NMG Senior Project Manager Jessica Paino.

“The career that’s right for you might not have been invented yet,” said Normanly.  “You don’t have to know what you want to do when you grow up now.”

She also challenged the girls to “pay attention in English.  You have to be able to write and communicate well.”

Capitol Women's Network TechGirlz

WRAL-TV’s Wendy Gatlin (right) speaks to TechGirlz participants as part of a panel during the Capitol Women’s Network Service Project in Studio A on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

Hanrahan received a rousing ovation when she told the middle school students, ‘It’s okay to be you.”

The panel wrapped with a Q&A session with the TechGirlz attendees.  The fact that Hanrahan had eaten a tarantula for one of her WRAL.com Out & About adventures became an enthusiastic topic of discussion.

“The event blew me away,” said WRAL-FM Account Executive Barbara Purtee.  “The panel of CBC Women and their advice they gave to their younger selves was very strong and I hope the middle school girls were listening and really took in the incredible advice and inspiring stories that were shared.”

Tours and Workshops
For the second part of the TechGirlz event, CWN members took smaller groups of students on a tour of the newsroom and provided snacks and conversation.  Afterwards the two groups took part in the News Story Production workshop, led by several CBC women.

“Being a teaching assistant in the class with Shelly Leslie was amazing!!” said Purtee.  “She is a natural and so engaging, talented, and smart.  I’m sure the girls will remember a lot of the points that were relayed.”

Purtee teamed up with Leslie, while NMG Marketing Director Laura Worthington led the other session with an assist by NMG Project Manager Laney Tipton.

“We touched on the tech part of the lesson with creating compelling content and story writing, but Shelly, in a very non lecturing way, was able to touch on reminding the girls to be nice in life, be confident, and be true to who they are,” said Purtee.  “I hope those words sunk into the girls and the team of CWM Women impacted them to make good choices in life and be the best that they can be.”

Capitol Women Serving the Community
CWN commits to at least one service project per year, giving the women in the CBC organization an opportunity to give back to the community.  In 2017, the group spent a day volunteering at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm in Raleigh.

TechGirlz offered an opportunity to serve the community in a different way.

Capitol Women's Network TechGirlz

AUD’s Shelly Leslie leads one of two Newsroom Story Production workshops for TechGirlz participants as part of the Capitol Women’s Network service project on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

The non-profit TechGirlz provides the outline, guide and materials for running the workshop, so CWN simply had to provide the space and women willing to share.  CWN added a CBC flare with the station tour and panel of professional women to the package.

“TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of topics and difficulty levels in their ‘tech in a box’ workshops at no cost-these are easily executed by any organization,” explained Chappell.  “TechGirlz is on an important mission, and I was so excited to be a small part of that mission for a day!”

She continued, “I knew when the workshop filled up overnight that we were addressing a true need and desire in the community,” said Chappell.  “We ended up with 50 girls registered, and another 50 on a wait list, and I had parents calling me, begging me to get their kids in.”

The afternoon turned out to be a win-win for the CWN members and the middle school girls.

“Volunteering with Tech Girlz also reminded me how much I love working with children,” said Beck.  “There’s just such a joy and sense of curiosity in children’s minds and hearts that we adults need to remember to have and can certainly learn a lot from.”

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