Gig City Girls Women's History Month
Posted on 03/28/2024
Gig City Girls Women's History MonthChattanooga Tennessee- In celebration of Women's History Month, Gig City Girls is proudly showcasing female graduates from Hamilton County Schools who have made significant strides in IT, computer science, or STEM fields. Michelle Bettis, the founder of Gig City Girls, created posters celebrating these accomplished alumni, aiming to inspire current students to envision themselves in similar roles. These posters will be displayed in the schools the honored women once attended, acting as symbols of what students can achieve.

During her time as a teacher at East Hamilton Middle High, Bettis observed a lack of girls in the high school engineering classes. Motivated to make a difference, Bettis launched an after-school girls coding club. The club's first meeting drew an impressive 45 participants. This increased interest among girls resulted in a record number of female students applying to the STEM School at the time.

Bettis, now a Technology Integration Coach with HCS, led the launching of Gig City Girls in 2018 with help from Nikki Russell, Assistant Principal at Red Bank Elementary School, and Stephanie Montgomery, Dean of Students at the Virtual School. The organization is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming space for young girls to explore and enhance their proficiency in technology through a club.

Bliss Murphy, an original member of Bettis’s first girls coding club, is now on a poster at East Hamilton Middle School. Murphy has taken a unique path, currently serving as a dedicated zookeeper at the Chattanooga Zoo. Reflecting on her journey, Murphy expressed, “I felt seen participating in the girls’ coding club. There weren’t extracurriculars that catered towards my interests beforehand; especially any that appeared welcoming to a neurodivergent person like me. Gig City Girls was just the space I needed to flourish. I had that same ‘seen’ feeling again looking at my poster and imagining the inspiration I was hoping it would give to students going on a similar path as me.”

Through the organization's efforts, teachers across Hamilton County Schools are now equipped with resources, including a comprehensive Google Drive filled with activities and plans, as well as a classroom kit, to facilitate the club's activities. The initiative has seen participation from as many as 28 schools, where each session begins with exploring potential career paths in technology, thereby fostering a direct connection to real-world job opportunities. In addition, the club celebrates the achievements of its members by recognizing a "Coder of the Month," further encouraging girls to aspire to careers in STEM.

Gig City Girls aims to nurture the understanding, skills, and confidence of female students in utilizing technology to solve real-world problems. Through their innovative programs, girls are exposed to essential skills in coding, robotics, and STEM, facilitated by teachers and mentors equipped with engaging lessons and activities tailored to every level of expertise.

By highlighting the achievements of women in STEM and providing young girls with the tools and support to follow in their footsteps, the organization is not only honoring the legacy of female pioneers but is also paving the way for a future where women thrive in technology and science, without limits. This Women's History Month, the posters featuring female alumni displayed in their alma maters stand as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when opportunities are intentionally created.