In Search of a Few Good Geeks

SAN FRANCISCO (08/14/2000) - There's a server farm blackout in Sioux City. Four people can't boot up in Massapequa. In a San Jose elementary school, a monitor needs degaussing. These sound like jobs for TechieTeam 2000.

Citing the need for more technology professionals in the workforce, a nonprofit organization called TechiesDay is promoting technology jobs and education.

Its annual competition, TechieTeam 2000, highlights organizations and individuals who have increased awareness among kids of the availability of computer-based jobs.

The deadline for entries is August 21, and winners will be announced at a technology summit on TechiesDay, October 3, in Washington, D.C. Each of the ten winners will receive $10,000 in software for their programs. The winners will make several appearances at conferences. TechieTeam 2000 will provide transportation to the TechiesDay event, where participants will be "wined and dined for four or five days," says Chris Carpenter, TechiesDay Event Manager.

Seeking Female Geeks

Tech jobs are often difficult to fill, and recent studies show that, in particular, women are underrepresented in technology-based workplaces.

A recent report from research firms Media Metrix Inc. and Jupiter Communications Inc. reports the percentage of women on the Web (at 50.4 percent) now exceeds that of men. However, women currently represent just 20 percent of IT professionals, according to the American Association of University Women.

The TechiesDay organization hopes to catch kids early. It dismisses the stereotype of tech worker as nerdy geek, while promoting skills that will help kids get high-paying tech jobs in their future. (In other words, they'll be highly trained, well-paid geeks.) "One of our sponsors, GirlGeeks, is dedicated to promoting women in technology," Carpenter says. "GirlGeeks have been great in drawing from their client base and ... telling us what sort of programs we need to implement for girls and women."

Turning Kids to Technology

Last year's TechieTeam award winner was the Kansas Army and Air National Guard STARBASE, a group that promotes math, science, and technology education for elementary students.

"They have a program that goes out into schools and teaches kids all kinds of computer skills, from learning databases to working with hardware," Carpenter says. "Then they take the kids to air bases and show them how these technologies work at mission control, how they work on an airplane."

TechiesDay is a joint project started by CNET and tech job-hunting site Techies.com.

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