High School Students Innovate in CGI IT Girl Challenge

April 15, 2024

SCI is committed to making the field of computing and information accessible to students from all backgrounds. As an SCI partner, CGI shares this vision and has made the field of technology more diverse and inclusive. The annual CGI IT Girl Challenge provides female-identifying high-school students with the opportunity to create a mobile application with support from CGI and university student mentors. The applications are then presented to a panel of industry judges with the winning team awarded a $20,000 scholarship prize. Through introductory programs like the CGI IT Girl Challenge, CGI is making the field of technology more accessible to underrepresented groups. CGI’s co-lead of the IT Girl Challenge emphasizes the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion at CGI, SCI, and the field of STEM. 

Q: What is the CGI IT Girl Challenge?

A: The CGI IT Girl Challenge allows high-school aged female-identifying students to collaborate with mentors through CGI and the University of Pittsburgh to build a mobile application using open-source block coding utilities. Student participants within the challenge collaborate as a team along with their mentors for a 10-12 week duration. At the end of this time period, the teams present their mobile application to a panel of industry judges, in which a winning team is selected and awarded a $20,000.00 scholarship to be split equally amongst the student participants on the team.

Organizing the CGI IT Girl Challenge is a multi-faceted endeavor involving several key stakeholder groups inside and outside of CGI. The process begins with branching out into the community to identify teams to participate. This is done through a variety of different channels including but not limited to high school career events, STEM events hosted within the community, and word of mouth.

Upon identifying the teams from the community, CGI looks inward to identify passionate members who want to participate as mentors for the teams. This same exercise has been conducted in years past in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh. Once all mentors have been identified, there is a team matching discussion that takes place within CGI which is publicized upon the “Kick Off” of the challenge.

Throughout the duration of the challenge, there are regular touchpoints amongst the community organizations, mentors and leads of the challenge to ensure smooth execution of all events leading up to and including the Final Day of Challenge, which will be hosted on June 7, 2024.


Q: Why are programs like the CGI IT Girl Challenge valuable to girls in STEM?

A: The CGI IT Girl Challenge has proven to be impactful on a multitude of different fronts, spanning across all different participants within the challenge. Historically, CGI has seen a lot of excitement and buzz within the local Pittsburgh community around the challenge. Community sponsors and participating students have all shown great enthusiasm and charisma in participating in the challenge. This excitement is a testament to why CGI has demonstrated and executed a STEM strategy here in the local Pittsburgh community as well as across CGI’s broader network.

CGI has seen this challenge have a direct correlation to students choosing to pursue STEM tracks both educationally and professionally upon entering workforce. We here at CGI have experienced several returning students participating in the challenge as well as past participants in the challenge coming back to help as a mentor.


Q: How is the CGI IT Girl Challenge making meaningful change in diversity and inclusion in the field of STEM?

A: The CGI IT Girl Challenge plays a crucial role in promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM by addressing barriers, providing opportunities, and empowering underrepresented groups to pursue and succeed in these fields. For example:

  • By highlighting the achievements and talents of women in STEM, the CGI IT Girl Challenge can provide role models and inspiration for others who may not have seen themselves represented.
  • Challenges often involve training, workshops, and mentorship opportunities, which can help participants develop the skills and confidence needed to pursue careers in STEM.
  • Challenges can create networks of support among diverse participants, mentors, and industry professionals, fostering a sense of belonging and community for women in STEM and URG, which they belong. Showcasing challenges helps dispel stereotypes and biases about who belongs in STEM fields, helping to create more inclusive environments.

Learn more about CGI and the IT Girl Challenge here!


--Alyssa Morales


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash