According to research, in 2017, females held just 24% of computer science jobs and occupied roughly 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley. The 2018 Women in Tech Index, meanwhile, found that in its study of 41 countries in the OECD and EU, the proportion of female tech workers remains under 30% across the board.
One of the ways to ensure this number increases in the coming years is to ensure young girls see tech as a viable and exciting career option and that any interest in technology is encouraged and nurtured, and this is something we are firm believers of at Fraedom.
A perfect example of this is Technovation which was launched in 2010 and offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, they invite girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it using technology.
This year was the first year New Zealand teams have entered Technovation and after hearing that Auckland ambassador, Theresa Corballis was looking for mentors to take part in this year’s competition, we jumped at the chance to get involved.
Four members from our Auckland-based team, Ritika Kashyap - Product Owner, Eddie Chiang - Solutions Architect, Tushal Bhadang – Technical Communicator and Goran Saveski - Senior UX Designer, volunteered to mentor four young girls in the Junior Division of the initiative. The inspiring group of tech enthusiasts, Anna, Lulu, Celest and Hayley, aged between 10 and 11 years old, came together to form the 'Young & Brave' team and were tasked with building a mobile app.
The Fraedom mentor team joined ‘Young & Brave’ for 4 two-hour workshops to share their expertise and offer guidance on everything from developing an app to creating videos advertising the app. With some guidance from their Fraedom mentors, 'Young & Brave' developed an app called Lift to help teens and youngsters around the world combat emotional and mental health problems. They also helped the girls create a two-minute video pitch* detailing their research, finding and decisions around the app. We are delighted to say that their hard work paid off and the impressive app won the New Zealand nationals competition and propelled the team into the global semi-final of the competition.
Unfortunately, the team didn’t make it to the finals in Silicon Valley, however, their app demonstrated a great deal of talent and creativity. For Fraedom, our involvement in the initiative has been extremely rewarding and has highlighted just how much we can achieve by working together and offering a little guidance and ingenuity.
With 70% of Technovation’s alumnae going on to enrol in subsequent Computer Science courses and 26% of alumnae at university majoring in computer science, it’s vital organisations like ours continue to support these initiatives to ensure girls and women get the encouragement they need.
At Fraedom, we look forward to supporting Technovation again in the future and we wish all the finalists for this year’s competition luck!
*The idea described in the video is owned by the girls and can not be used by anyone else.