WISE Mentor Breakfast facilitates leadership development for female students

Fall 2013 WISE Mentor Breakfast
Dean Larry Dennis speaks at the WISE Mentor Breakfast.

WISE (Women in IT and ICT Sharing Experiences), in conjunction with the College of Communication & Information (CCI), hosted its bi-annual mentor and networking breakfast on Oct. 30 as the Florida State University student organization continued to facilitate the development of young women as emerging leaders.

Over 50 female students and 20 women leaders in the fields of technology, business and education, attended the event. WISE hosts the breakfast to connect Florida State students with female leaders, foster networking skills, provide career advice and set up mentoring relationships. Professionals from businesses such as Datamaxx and Onyx Group, along with officials from various state and local agencies, including the City of Tallahassee and The Children’s Campaign, as well as CCI Dean Larry Dennis and Florida State Provost Garnett Stokes, were in attendance, exhibiting the strong commitment of local woman leaders to the cause.

While WISE focuses on students in Information Technology and Information, Communication and Technology programs, all majors are welcome to join the organization.  The group aims to provide young female students with opportunities for professional growth, networking and leadership through partnerships with professional women in the technology and business community.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts Information Technology to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the nation’s economy and expects the industry will add nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2020.  However, women are under-represented in the talent pool of college graduates with computing-related degrees.  According to 2012 statistics from BLS, only 25.6 percent of the people in computer and mathematics occupations were female.

FSU Provost Garnett Stokes talks to students.
FSU Provost Garnett Stokes talks to students at WISE Mentor Breakfast.

Through the concerted efforts of CCI and WISE, the College’s enrollment of female students has doubled in the typically predominantly male programs of IT and ICT.  Since WISE was created in 2009, the number of women in Florida State’s IT and ICT programs has increased from 20 to 40 percent.

Associate Dean Ebe Randeree is planning a more encompassing WISE mentoring event on Feb. 4, which will include national speakers from Fortune 500 companies like NetApp and Cisco as well as local business leaders and Provost Stokes.  CCI students, and FSU students from other colleges will be invited, as well as female high school students throughout Leon County.

“The WISE mentor breakfasts have received such great support from the local business and technology communities that we wanted to expand this outreach to young women,” Randeree said.  “This larger event will allow students throughout FSU and high school to network with prominent women business leaders.”

The Feb. 4 event is tentatively scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the Turnbull Conference Center.  If you are interested in becoming a member of WISE or being a mentor for the group, visit the organization’s website at http://wise.cci.fsu.edu.