Girls and young women considering a career in ICT need to be determined and bring their creative skills to the sector, female participants on the UCL EDUCATE project have advised.
Speaking on International Girls in ICT Day 2019, some of the programme’s most successful and inspirational technologists and entrepreneurs, have revealed how they were often deterred from a career in the industry because it was deemed to be for boys. But they persevered, believing in themselves and what they could bring to the industry.
Emma Rogers and Layla Yarjani, from Little Bridge, said that while a belief in the transformational change needed in education spurred them on, it was apparent there were gender gaps, with fewer women than men engaged in technology.
Emma, CEO of Little Bridge, said: “Getting into tech held some surprises. Naively perhaps, we did not anticipate some of the potential barriers. Things like ‘tech is a boy’s game’ and ‘you need to grow some b*lls!’ were thrown at us. This was the prevailing message, from developers to business advisers to investors. There is a sense that there are certain masculine ‘norms and rules’ in the tech sector. No wonder girls are turned off.
“But the more obstacles that were put in our way, the more determined we became, not only to make a success of what we are doing ourselves, but also to encourage other women to create opportunities in tech. Grit is a female characteristic.”
Kaitlin Fritz, co-founder of Musemio, a VR EdTech platform, entered the industry as an art historian – but this didn’t hold her back.
“It is ok for girls to be different and unique, as when you come with your own lens of thinking, that is when true innovation can happen,” she said.
“Girls looking to enter the field should have courage in themselves and in their knowledge, an understanding of what skills they excel in, and a wholehearted passion to see their dreams become reality. And there are always other women to look up to along the way, so they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.”
Meanwhile, Caroline Scott, Director of Across Cultures, said one of her biggest challenges, as a teacher by profession, was having to learn about aspects of the technology industry she knew nothing about previously, including how to run a business.
She advised girls to “find a passion and use technology to make a difference. You don’t have to know everything, as that’s impossible. However, you will always learn what you need as you go if you are determined and resourceful.”
Becky Sage, CEO of Interactive Scientific, said she felt she needs to be in technology because it is so much a part of 21st century life.
Among the challenges she has faced as a female entrepreneur are finding investment, need to build a collaborative team, and entrenched approaches to new technology. She said girls and young women considering careers in technology needed a focus, and to face the challenges that might be ahead.
“If you are doing something that you care about, and learn to enjoy the things that you initially find daunting, then the challenges will be easier to get through,” Becky said. “Surround yourself with people who can support your vision and who you trust and respect; find role models and advocates. Your community is the most important thing on your journey in any field, especially technology.”
For more information about International Girls in ICT Day, go to: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Digital-Inclusion/Women-and-Girls/Girls-in-ICT-Portal/Pages/Why-a-Girls-in-ICT-Day.aspx|zxz\