NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–Encouragement, community, recognition and sponsorship. These are all needed to spark girls’ interest in computer science and make up for the “headwind” boys enjoy in this field, Ruth Farmer, director of strategic initiatives with the National Center for Women and Information Technology, told a recent gathering here. The focus of the event was to share strategies for getting young women interested in computer science, in light of the recent attention-getting news that last year fewer than 20 percent of teens who took the Advanced Placement Computer Science test were females.

“There’s not a shortage of smart girls in math,” Farmer told the group. “There is a shortage of smart girls in math who get into technology.”

The stars of the event were female teens from Girls Who Code, a training program for teenagers, and the Academy of Software Engineering, a New York City public high school that incorporates tech internships and mentoring.

One of student participants was Helen Denisenko, who described how programming appealed to her inner-activist. “Being introduced to computing, I don’t say anymore ‘I am going to end world hunger,'” she told the group. Now, she asks herself how she can use technology to help people break through roadblocks for advancement.