Celebrating women in tech!
At Apps for Good we believe that all young people should be equipped with the tech skills to take action on the things they care about most. We’re especially passionate about encouraging more girls to pursue future study and careers in STEM. According to Nominet’s Digital Youth Index Report, women and girls account for just 22% of GCSE entrants in IT subjects.
Despite this national picture, 50% of the young people who take our courses are women, a fact we are very proud of. Our courses follow approaches to teaching computing which engage young women, such as collaboration: in-teams developing ideas for an app and in-programming within a pair. Girls are also shown to engage with learning programming within a context such as creating an app for a community that they care about.
This International Women’s Day we talked to Dr. Emma Posey, our Senior Education Manager and content creator for Apps for Good and Leah Rowland, who is a Program Manager at BNY Mellon as well as a dedicated Apps for Good volunteer and advocate for #Womenintech.
We talked to Emma and Leah about the importance of diversity in the tech sector and why it is so important to address the gender imbalance; Emma said; ‘I'd be really keen to see greater diversity throughout the technology sector and that includes women. Technology is affecting how we live our lives and how we work. We therefore need to have a balance of approaches within the tech sector so that the technology that is developed relates to everyone.’
Leah added;‘From an organisational perspective, by not addressing the gender balance you are missing out on amazing talent. I also think from a grassroots standpoint, it’s so important to show that it doesn't matter what your gender is, it's crucial to find your authentic self. If you have that ability or that passion, you should just follow it.’
Role models are hugely important. If a student looks to the tech sector, and doesn't see anyone like them, they are less likely to relate to it as a place for them to work. There's a lot of career paths in the tech sector. It's not all about programming.”
Dr Emma Posey, Senior Learning Manager, Apps for Good
We considered the importance of diverse role models in the sector, as a way of promoting more girls and women to consider a career in tech and both Emma and Leah identified how important it is to see yourself represented in those around you. Leah said, ‘I believe there are multiple values to seeing a woman being successful in the tech arena or in the STEM arena. I actually feel that visual representation is really powerful. And then you can make it even more powerful by sharing your story and being approachable.’
During our conversations with Emma and Leah we also talked about their own personal career journeys within the tech and tech-education sectors. Both acknowledged that sometimes the journey can be full of twists and turns and new developments but there is much learnt along the way. And in light of this, Leah let us know what advice she would give to her younger- self and to current students;
Find your interest. Concentrate, take what you need but also do your own research into your passions. Have faith in yourself and always remember to be your authentic self.”
Leah Rowland, Program Manager, BNY Mellon
Here at Apps for Good we recognise the power of diverse role models. That’s why we connect young people with Industry Experts Volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds and fields of work.
It is important to us to continue building on this diversity, and ensuring young people are able to see themselves in the professionals they connect with.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering your time as an Industry Expert to inspire the next generation of young innovators please visit our website - www.appsforgood.org/volunteers.