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IBM Technology Camps Inspire Worldwide "EXITE"ment

30 Week-long Camps Encourage Adolescent Girls in the U.S. and Overseas to Explore Math, Science and Technology Careers

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Armonk, New York - 20 May 2003: Approximately 1,000 middle school-aged girls around the world will have an opportunity to explore technology and work collaboratively on math and science-related projects, as IBM expands its EXITE Camp program to 30 sites, including camps in Sandton, South Africa; Greenock, Scotland; Manila, Philippines; Santiago, Chile; Jakarta, Indonesia and a unique program for girls with disabilities in Bloomington, Minn., in the United States.

Between May and October 2003, girls at more than a dozen IBM locations in the U.S. and 17 facilities in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific will receive hands-on experience, encouragement and enthusiasm at EXITE camps, EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering], while learning how to break down and rebuild computers, construct web sites, make liquid nitrogen ice cream and develop presentations. The goal is to encourage the girls' interest in mathematics and science, and give them an in-depth look at the numerous career opportunities in the field of technology.

Launched in 1999, EXITE Camps are an extension of IBM's commitment to reach groups that are under-represented in the technical workforce and to train and recruit individuals from those constituencies for technical careers. "The pool of skilled technology workers is shrinking, partially because fewer women are entering the industry," said Janet Perna, general manager, Data Management, IBM Software Group and the company's lead executive for Women in Technology initiatives. "Studies reveal that our pipeline is most vulnerable in the middle school years when girls steer away from math and science. This limits their chances to pursue future engineering or technical degrees, and, in turn, diminishes our future talent pool. EXITE is one way that we can help spark interest in the sciences and build their confidence."

Over the last decade fewer women pursued science and engineering at the university level, although during the next decade, one in ten jobs will be in the technology field. Through its EXITE Camps, IBM hopes that by identifying 12- and 13-year-old-girls with an interest or proficiency in math and science, it can prepare members of the next generation to fill the technical pipeline by introducing them to the potential of technology as well as the fun and exciting things they can do with it right now, and exposing them to women who have successful technology careers.

More than 1,000 IBMers, female and male, will participate in the EXITE camps as volunteers - - developing, coordinating and overseeing such activities as web-page design, computer chip design, laser optics, animation, robotics, and working with computer hardware and software. They will also introduce the girls to a variety of IBM technologies including TryScience.org, an award-winning website designed to make learning science more fun for kids.

To date, 1,700 girls have participated in the EXITE Camps. Participants are nominated by counselors and teachers at middle schools that have an established relationship with IBM through such community outreach programs as Reinventing Education or IBM Mentorplace. Once the camps conclude, participants will stay in touch with technical women at IBM through an e-mentoring program ( www.mentorplace.org). The mentors correspond with the girls during the school year via email, providing tutoring and encouraging them to further pursue their interests in math, science and technology.

Twenty girls with varying disabilities are expected to attend the EXITE Camp hosted by IBM at the PACER Center, a non-profit organization, based in Bloomington, Minn., that serves disabled children, young adults and their families. The girls will be involved in many of the same activities as campers at other sites: tearing down a PC, building a website, learning about circuit board technology and networking with visiting guests and speakers. Campers participating in the Bloomington program will also visit the IBM facility in Rochester and take part in a video teleconference with EXITE campers in Bogota, Colombia.

"For the past two years I've seen the world of opportunities that math, science and technology open up for girls at the Rochester site," said Heidi Kraemer, manager, Minnesota community relations, IBM, and the coordinator for the EXITE program in Bloomington. "This camp will be going after a group of girls for whom these opportunities generally have not been available. It will provide a wonderful chance for them to experience math, science and technology and to recognize the wealth of careers and possibilities that are now open to them."

The leaders of the South Africa EXITE camp are also looking forward to presenting new possibilities to the 30 girls who will participate in its program. "We come from a history where women and Black people were not given the opportunities that would have allowed them to consider technology as a career option," explains Lorraine Mndebele, IBM Diversity Management and Employee Programs. "We will bring together girls of different races, from both privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds, hoping that over the course of the week they will learn that women with backgrounds in math, science and technology are making valuable contributions to societies all around the world."

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