The Women in BICSI Group is accepting donations, including through this GoFundMe campaign, to offset the cost of sponsoring a female competitor in BICSI’s annual Cabling Skills Challenge. 2019 will be the fifth consecutive year in which Women in BICSI sponsors a competitor in the challenge. Women in BICSI will accept donations from individuals and organizations to partially cover the cost of the participant's travel, hotel and meals while they compete.
The Cabling Skills Challenge is held as part of BICSI’s Winter Conference and Exhibition, which will take place January 20-24 in Orlando, FL. The multiple-event Cabling Skills Challenge will be held January 21-23, with winners in multiple categories announced January 23.
In 2018, Women in BICSI sponsored Ashley Smith of Ozarks Technical Community College (pictured below). Smith finished in second place in the Installer 1 category of the competition. The Women in BICSI group says, "The competitors have strengthened their performance each year, providing an increased awareness of opportunities for women in the ICT industry while offering a framework for more women in the industry to connect with their peers. Your support will enable us to continue our outreach to women in the ICT industry. Please consider donating $20.19 or more to support the Women in BICSI candidate for the 2019 Cabling Skills Challenge."
Women in BICSI hopes to raise $2000 in funds to support this year’s competitor. In addition to the GoFundMe campaign, Women in BICSI is accepting direct contributions. Interested parties can email email@example.com to inquire about direct contributions.
Smith explained that without the financial backing of Women in BICSI, it's doubtful she would have been able to participate in the 2018 competition. As a single mother, she was unlikely to fit a trip to the BICSI Conference and Exhibition into her budget. So despite possessing the skill and experience that ultimately delivered a second-place finish in her category, Smith would have missed the opportunity to compete. Through its sponsorship of a Skills Challenge participant and its fundraising efforts, Women in BICSI aims to provide, rather than deny, those opportunities to deserving women.
As she recently wrote for BICSI Insider, "The competition was a grueling three-day event that pushed me to perform. Needless to say, I was thrilled to earn second place in the INST1 category. It was a great accomplishment professionally, and an extremely personal victory as that time in my life was especially difficult.
“While I was preparing for and participating in the competition, I had several projects going on at work and I was also struggling with health challenges. Come to find out I was competing with a dying gallbladder, which was removed just a week after the competition. I didn’t let it get to me, though. I am glad I continued with the competition and did my best, even though my nerves were going crazy. It was a rewarding experience and I appreciate all the support from the Women in BICSI Group.”
In addition to working in the IT department at Ozarks Technical Community College, Smith recently began teaching courses on telecommunications cabling at the school. Of three courses she has taught, one did not contain a female student and the other two each contained one female student. Smith believes this example reflects the overall dearth of women entering the cabling field, and changing this current reality is one of Women in BICSI's objectives. The group also aims to promote career development and advancement among women who have chosen careers in the profession. Women in BICSI hosts an event at each of the two U.S. BICSI Conferences per year, which typically serve a dual purpose of education and professional networking among attendees. At the 2019 Winter Conference, the group will host a breakfast presentation featuring guest speaker Lylette Macdonald, RCDD, who will present "My Journey Through ICT Convergence."
Michele Neifing, director of sales and marketing at OFS and chair of Women in BICSI, says the group has grown significantly since its founding several years ago. She receives multiple membership applications per week. "From the time we were forming the group," she recalls, "sponsoring a competitor in the Cabling Skills Challenge was one of our goals." That goal became a reality when Women in BICSI sponsored a competitor for the first time in 2015. Through its current campaign, Women in BICSI now provides the opportunity for individuals and organizations across the industry to contribute to the professional development and achievement of a woman in this field.