Testani, Creative Computing Center and Aliza
Sherman, Webgrrl Inc.
BIZ WOMEN talk with guidance counselors about
high-tech opportunities for women.By
ALISON GENDAR, Daily News Staff Writer
At age 31, Aliza Sherman runs her own
high-tech media company. At 28, software engineer Sandy Eddy
Polocz works to insure that Hewlett Packard's next generation of
products looks ahead to customers' needs. And at 37, Tammy
Jeffers is the link between human resources and information
technology at Bell Atlantic.
All three women hope the
paths they took to success can be inspiration for other young women
to enter high-tech fields.
"When I was on the Web in the early 1990s,
the other women I found there were all women in their 40s or 50s,
and they were professors, scientists and academic people," said
Sherman, president and founder of Cybergrrl Inc., a new media
entertainment company that develops programming and Web sites for
boggles the mind how in a few years, the Internet has gone
mainstream. You can't see a bus go by that doesn't have a Web site
address plastered on its side, but a lot of young women are still
not sure what the opportunities are, or how to prepare themselves to
grab them," Sherman said.
One way to get information out to young women
is to grab the attention of junior and senior high school guidance
counselors. DeVry Institute in Long Island City, a technology
college that offers associate and bachelor's degrees, recently
invited more than 40 public school guidance counselors to meet women
in high-tech fields. While more than 50% of DeVry's business majors
are women, the percentage drops below 10% in the more technical
fields, such as electronics.
"I think many young women don't know the
kind of job opportunities that are out there. They have that geeky
stereotype that they would be locked in a small room staring at a
computer with no one to talk to all day," said Ellen Derwin,
national manager of outreach services for DeVry. "If young women
meet dynamic women in these tech fields, that geeky stereotype is
blown away," Derwin said.
Sherman, a military brat, had run a nonprofit
domestic-abuse awareness agency, and worked as a music-marketing
liaison for groups such as Metallica, Def Leppard and the Rolling
Stones. But she was always fascinated by the potential of computers.
"With the Internet, an individual could be as powerful as a
multi-million-dollar corporation. I could publish a magazine online,
or a million other possibilities, 'with very little startup cost. I
thought, other women need to know about this," she said. Ultimately,
Cybergrrl Inc. was born.
Polocz caught the science and math bug as a kid
-- spurred on by her father's support and her older sister's
interest. But by the time Polocz was majoring in software
engineering at Colorado State University, there were only three or
four other women in a class of 40.
"Too many young women get lost along the
way," Jeffers agreed. "I tell young women that information
technology is a wave you can ride to a lucrative job." As a manager
for data management, Jeffers bridges the gap between human resources
and information technology, "because these two divisions don't speak
the same language. People who have a technology background are in
Grace Testani, president, founder and CEO of
Creative Computing Center Inc. in Manhattan, said she fell into her
high-tech field the way many people now in the field did -- "almost
Testani's work in setting up employee training
programs for corporations turned into a career showing companies how
to create training programs on the Internet.
"The computer fields aren't like an old
boys club -- not yet anyway," Testani said. "It's a chance to be
creative in a wide-open situation."
New York Daily News, Metro Section - 1/21/99