Closing the Gender Gap in Maine Tech Careers

August 13, 2021 | Posted in:


Posted by Jen Hughes

Community is a cultural cornerstone here at Systems Engineering. As a 100% employee-owned company, we are committed to making a difference in the communities in which we work and live. We continually seek creative ways to partner with our community by sharing technical expertise, engaging in mission-driven work, and promoting social responsibility. Our most recent opportunity was with the Girls Who Code summer camp pilot program hosted at the University of Southern Maine (USM) in downtown Portland.

Project>Login, a program of Educate Maine, approached Systems Engineering about participating as a technology employer partner for the Girls Who Code summer camp, August 2-6, 2021. We were thrilled to accept this opportunity, as elevating careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) fields align with our passion for sharing technology and commitment to workforce development.

Did You Know?


In 1995, 37% of computer scientists were women. Today, it's only 24%. The percent will continue to decline if we do nothing. We know that the biggest drop-off of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17.

On Wednesday, student ambassadors from the Girls Who Code summer camp visited Systems Engineering's Portland office. We gave the students a tour of the facilities, introducing them to staff members and three individuals from our summer internship program. Project Management summer intern, Mallory Cashman, a rising Senior at the University of New Hampshire, was instrumental in designing and supporting the Girls Who Code experience.


“… having the support of Systems Engineering to plan these events with Project>Login has been very meaningful. Thinking back on my earlier experiences as a young woman interested in technology, I know that I would have loved these opportunities to meet professional women and hear about their jobs. As we amplify our efforts to close the gender gap in tech, introducing young women to role models who can relate to the experiences that they're having is very important, and I'm so glad that we hae been able to do so with these events.”   — MALLORY | 2021 Summer Intern

Our President & CEO, Matt McGrath, was onsite and delivered inspiring remarks about his commitment to young women in STEM. He encouraged them to build skills early and to consider Systems Engineering as they explore future careers in technology. "Building relationships early on and expanding the network of support for young women in STEM careers is one of the best ways to close the gender gap in technology careers," McGrath stated.


Students engaged in career path conversations with female employees across several departments at Systems Engineering (software, engineering, project management, and customer service). Many happen to be young women early in their tech careers, so discussions centered around roles, career paths, and what they appreciated about technology work. Additionally, students saw hybrid work in action. Some of our team presented on a Cisco telepresence unit from their home offices, while others sat across the table from the students. This experience gave the girls a real-world glimpse into the nuance of working collaboratively and remotely while maximizing technical tools.


The next day, three of our summer interns went to USM's Portland campus for a moderated panel conversation with the Girls Who Code student ambassadors. It wasn't long ago that our summer interns were also in high school, asking big questions like, "What am I interested in…, Where am I going…, and What's out there to support me in my exploration of technology?" Conversations revolved around bravery and resilience, imposter syndrome, and how internships are pivotal in career development. All three interns shared their path to technology, challenges in the classroom, group work assignments, and personal experience interviewing for internships.

“… I was given the opportunity to go from being the intern to being the role model. When I reflect and evaluate my own career path to Computer Science, there was a real lack of female role models to look up to. It was so rewarding to see the faces of the young girls and talk about the real substantive work I was doing as an intern at Systems Engineering. This has inspired me to continually be a positive impact on the future female coders.”
— CHARLOTTE ROGERSON  | 2021 Summer Intern

In the fall, the Girls Who Code student ambassadors will take the information they learned through their experiences at the camp and start new "Girls Who Code" clubs at their respective schools.

We are excited to continue our work with Project>Login and Girls Who Code moving forward. You can learn more about our work with the community on our social channels and blog articles. If you are an organization looking to elevate STEM careers and would like to have a conversation, reach out to Jen Hughes, Employee Success Manager, via our company email address info@systemsengineering.com

170x170 JHughes

Jen Hughes is the Employee Success Manager at Systems Engineering. She focuses on recruitment, employee growth, and professional development. Jen also supports a variety of workplace culture initiatives including employee ownership, health & well-being, and community engagement.