GRIT_PHL Co-Founders Shannon Feck and Jen Torre

GRIT_PHL Co-Founders Shannon Feck and Jen Torre


The story of GRIT_PHL started with a game of Mario Kart during Philly Tech Week. Though we worked together at Tonic Design Co. for a year, this was the first time the two of us actually had a chance to talk to each other. As we played, the conversation turned to the gender imbalance apparent at the event. Why were there were so few ladies in attendance? We thought about the larger picture--why were there so few ladies in the industry?

As we both dove deeper into the topic we discovered something shocking: the gender gap starts early. Girls’ interest in computer science drops by 50% between middle school and high school. After learning that fact, we brought Tonic employees together to further research the topic and brainstorm possible ways we could help close the gender gap.

Our first plan was to hold a roundtable event in which women in the community could come together to talk about their own experiences in the world of tech, and discuss possible ways to start solving the problem of gender disparity. Our featured speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, but there was a similar theme in all of their stories: the importance of representation in the industry and the need for mentors to nurture young girls’ interest in tech.

From this, GRIT was born. We envisioned a program where young girls can meet successful women, hear their stories, and learn about the different roles in STEM through hands-on experiences.

Sometimes we can’t believe that all of this started because of a simple conversation over a video game. If we can plan a mentorship program over Mario Kart, imagine what bright young girls can do with the right education and encouragement.

GRIT is the product of hard work from a dedicated committee. We’d like to take time to personally thank everyone that made our vision a reality--the planners, teachers, and participants who are working towards the greater goal of making STEM industries more inclusive and diverse.

We can’t wait to see what’s next.

- Jen Torre and Shannon Feck

GRIT_PHL Co-Founders