Tech Supergirls paving the way for women in technology

CASSANDRA PALMER-FIELD

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Mount Gravatt East State School competitors. Source: Jenine Beekhuyzen. 

Groups of Queensland school girls will this week head to Sydney for the grand final of the Tech Girls Movement competition.

In a society where women in the technology field is a rarity, the competition provides a welcome change for young women eager to pursue a career path that has been predominately favored by men.

The Tech Girls Movement competition sees schoolgirls creating their own apps to address social issues, for example the Primary School Queensland state finalists of Mount Gravatt East State School created ‘Bye Bye Cultural Bullying’.

The Tech Girls Movement was created to encourage young women to pursue a career in technology.

Founder, Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen says she created the competition  after finding very few females in her technology degree, something that didn’t sit right with her.

“There were times I definitely felt discouraged – there’s a lack of visible female role models and a lack of understanding of what technology entails” she said.

So she created the Tech Girls Movement using a campaign that involves young girls calling themselves superheros, some even donning their own costumes.

“I thought it would appeal to everyone and it’s crazy how quickly it’s grown, it really gives girls confidence,” she said.

“The competition involves young people solving young people’s problems…it’s growing phenomenally this competition saw 500 girls building apps.”

Dr Beekhuyzen recalls how there has even been a three year old pitch an idea at one of the competitions.

In the competition each  school team was matched with a mentor who guided the students over 12 weeks with weekly online meetings.

Students had to identify a problem in their local area, research it, build a prototype of their app and then upload their app and business plan to YouTube for judging.

Innovation Minister, Leeanne Enoch thinks the competition is great at encouraging women into pursuing technology and inspiring them to utilise it for social good, which will benefit their future.

“Sparking the interest of young women to pursue STEM and ICT careers is critical if we are to make the most of the innovation and entrepreneurial movement” Ms Enoch said in a statement.

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Schoolgirls working on their apps. Source: Jenine Beekhuyzen. 

“Diversity is a key driver of innovation and it is vital that women are supported to play their part in the knowledge economy.”

Ms Enoch says that the government recognises the potential young women have and are doing their best to support their potential careers through an array of initiatives.

“Through programs like our Research Fellowships and PhD scholarships and initiatives like the Women’s Academic Fund our government is supporting and promoting talented women scientists and entrepreneurs working in STEM fields.

“We’re doing this because we know that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations in Queensland require science, technology, engineering or maths knowledge.”

Dr Beekhuyzen applauds the governments involvement as well as the introduction of compulsory technology subjects into the curriculum as of 2018, something she believes will be “a game-changer.”

As for the future of Tech Girls Dr Beekhuyzen hopes for a “tech girls world domination” and to “make it normal” for women to be in the technology industry.

For now, the finalists will gather at the Microsoft Office in Sydney this Thursday for the announcement of the competition winner.

 

 

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