The superhero concept is powerful. The idea of larger-than-life people defending us from evil and villainy is essentially the modern equivalent of fairy tales. And it’s not about being brilliant at everything, but about having that one skill, that superpower than inspires others.
And today, we’re in a challenging situation. Decades of research reveals that girls opt out of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) at the age of six years old. This is, in part, due to a lack of visible female role models and a lack of understanding of what STEM professionals do.
That’s why the Tech Girls Movement was launched on March 8, 2014 in the aim of raising more awareness about the STEM disciplines and encouraging girls to continue. One of the ways they do that is through competitions. They bring girls together with leaders in the industry, and make them aware that they don’t have to be a coder or a mathematician. There are other options and disciplines in STEM.
Rene Plamenac joins to chat about STEM careers and also mentions that we have to think about diversity. With the predicted way that the workforce will move, experts are anticipating that a third of all jobs in this industry will be in technology areas. And so what we need to do to for businesses to perform better is really create that diversity - bringing more girls into the industry will assist with that.
It is intimidating to be the lone woman in any group, which is why girls tend to avoid the STEM career path, which is dominated by men. Rene encourages both girls and boys to not be afraid to take challenges, have the confidence to go out and just do their best. “If there's an opportunity, there's an opportunity there, sometimes you don't need to tick all the boxes, you really just need to jump in with both feet.”
Global Tech Girl Movement
The campaign attracts girls across Australia and New Zealand interested in tech and wanting to make a difference. Each year the organisation receives entries for over 1,000 girls.
Open to primary school and high school girls between the ages of 7-17, teams compete for the chance to be the next Tech Girl Superhero. The competition requires the submission of a business case and working app prototype that helps to address a current community issue within the categories of poverty, environment, peace, equality, education and health. Teams have 12 weeks to research, develop and then pitch their winning solution via a public video.
This year’s competition is closed but now is a good time to start planning for next year.
The national winners are given the chance to submit their solution and pitch their idea at the annual global Technovation Challenge competition held in silicon valley in the US the following year.
As Rene says “At the end of the day winning is not essential if we can give each and every girl the confidence and support they need to be brilliant then we will all benefit”.