Derry/Londonderry is not a tech city, about 90% of any tech or startup-related events happen in Belfast and Dublin (Google much?). If you add the general approach of “tech if not for girls” to the mix (something that still exist!) – not a lot of opportunities to engage with the tech part of the world and entertain the idea of working in what is now called STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. According to the report prepared by Tech Nation, in 2018 “only 19% of the digital tech workforce in the UK is female.”
To spread the idea of “you can do anything, and you can definitely do technology, engineering, or anything else that was previously deemed male-only,” schools around Derry – mostly girls-only schools – organize Tech Weeks and events for their pupils.
As a part of this initiative, as a woman working in the IT industry, I was invited to speak to female students at two local, girls-only schools: St Cecilia’s College and St Mary’s College.
I have an advantage that the girls in the class noticed: I’m not a programmer or website developer. Those two seem to be the immediate connotations with IT. But a lot of girls actually came up to me saying that they had no idea you can do something else than programming. I explained what my role as an Instructional Designer (and my side-role of Design Thinking Mentor) entails, I showed the connections with IT but assured them coding knowledge – while super cool – is not a prerequisite for my job. I’m happy I had the pleasure maybe, hopefully, light a little spark in their minds about venturing into different industries.
Take a look at the advice-like tweet from Emma Watson. Pure motivation, and you can find more in this article in The Huffington Post online magazine.