Four teams (18 students) from Years 7 to 11 signed up for Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017, under Digital Technologies Teacher, Elke Scneider's coaching. The students have completed the biggest challenge of the competition and after submitting their work this past Friday, now look forward to attending the Brisbane Showcase later in the term.
I remember the overwhelmingly, positive feeling of 'Girl Power' at the 2016 Showcase I attended with my eight-year-old daughter. It was wonderful to see the variety of school entries from around Queensland. So many young, innovative women were in the audience and to witness the excitement in the room when the winners were announced, was awesome.
The best part of the event is the acknowledgement that females CAN be entrepreneurial and they CAN DO tech! This is such an important message for our girls and young women to hear. Too often girls learn how they 'should' act from socially prescribed stereotypes and norms that are simply not true and no longer OK.
There are many reasons why we need to increase female participation in digital technologies and startups. Governments, businesses, educational institutions and media around the world, are pushing to increase female participation in computer science. Some reasons for this are to improve gender equality, increase diversity in the Information Technology (IT) industry, alleviate rising shortages in IT skills and to ensure ALL citizens are prepared for an increasingly digital workplace. It makes sense that a diverse workforce is better equipped to cater to the needs/wants of a diverse society. The social potential stemming from more women graduating in computer science, who then work in data science, software/app development, artificial intelligence, IT security and game design, is endless.
The advantages for participants in the Tech Girl Superhero competition:
Females learn they CAN DO technology and they CAN think of, and create solutions to help their community.
Teams meet every week and 'hang out' in a positive group setting. They know everyone is 'new' to the experience and it's OK if they don't yet, know it all.
Students learn to collaborate with each other online, including OneDrive, Slack and email.
Students learn to research whether a solution might be feasible and they learn the importance of competitive analysis.
They learn about startups; they identify a need in their community, brainstorm app solutions, research competition, identify a target audience, determine costs and consider the potential impact and revenue.
They learn basic computer programming skills and apply them to develop an app solution. Surprisingly some students start learning to code in a different computer language, all on their own. The Blue Screen team achieved this; one team member was very keen to create an iOS app, using Swift code.
Role-model coaches and mentors from industry tell these girls they are awesome and eventually they believe it. This year the teams had inspiring mentors; Ayla Soutar from TechnologyOne and Amy Byrne from Vodafone.
Teams have fun.
They make mistakes; they learn that it hurts when a team member lets them down but they also learn to forgive and to work harder as a team.
Each team creates a Pitch Video using previous teams' pitches as a guide. Through this process, they learn the best way to pitch their product.