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Community Impact

Inspiring the Next Generation of Tech Women

Sometimes, timing is everything. Last spring, Jeanine Heck, senior director of product management for Comcast, was invited to her alma mater, St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia, to speak during the school’s Career Day.

She told the students about her educational background in computer science and business, and shared her experience leading Comcast’s Technology + Product team in the creation of such innovations as a voice recognition capability that lets customers control their televisions through voice commands. 

"During my visit," Jeanine recalled, "it struck me that the girls had only been exposed to a handful of technology professionals and weren’t seeing the big picture of career options available to them."

After 15 years in software development, including about eight years at Comcast, Jeanine is well aware of the opportunities for more women in technology. She recognizes that "the best way to affect the ratio of women in technology is to inspire young girls to get into the field."

So she set about doing just that.

Through a discussion with St. Hubert’s president during Career Day, Jeanine learned of the school’s efforts to prioritize a math and science curriculum. She also learned the school recently launched its own FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) team, named the BambieBotz. Based in New Hampshire, FIRST is a nonprofit founded in 1989 that aims to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, including through a global robotics competition.

 

At St. Hubert’s, the launch of the robotics team in 2012 was a big leap forward from when Jeanine was a student there and the best option to explore her academic interests outside the classroom was Mathletes, a mathematics-focused competition among area high schools.

"I think the most valuable part of FIRST is problem solving," she said. "The students take a problem that’s big and difficult and break it into smaller parts in order to solve it."

A few months ago, when the opportunity to become a mentor through Comcast became available, Jeanine raised her hand to lend her expertise to the BambieBotz. Beginning this year, she is meeting regularly with the girls as they design, build and compete with their robot, and hone their teamwork and project management skills. 

The BambieBotz is one of five all-girls teams Comcast NBCUniversal is sponsoring this year, and Jeanine is one of about 100 Comcast, NBCUniversal and Telemundo employees mentoring 36 teams nationwide as part of the company’s support this season. Our support is also expanding to include regional competition sponsorships and student internships.

"I’m really looking forward to getting to know the girls," Jeanine said, "and helping them figure out how their interests in science and math can lead them through college to a career in technology."  

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