Girls to be empowered to be tech leaders of the future as part of new mentor strategy
SCOTLAND’S SCHOOLS are going to be the focus of a drive to find and promote women who are experts and in the field of technology, engineering and science.
A new project is part of a strategy by the charity Girl Geek Scotland and government body Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to tackle Scotland’s gender imbalance in digital technology.
It follows a report called Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together, which showed that women account for only 18 per cent of those working in digital technology roles in Scotland, suggesting that female tech mentors would help rectify this imbalance.
“Role models and mentors are an incredibly valuable way of communicating just how much is possible if young people choose to embark on a computing science qualification.” Evelyn Walker
Morna Simpson, the founder of Girl Geek Scotland, said: “There are many role model initiatives already doing great work in Scotland and the aim of this project is to provide the basis for further widening provision and support.
“We want to hear from as many organisations as possible in response to our surveys so that we can create a full map of activities and encourage greater use of role models and mentors across Scotland.”
Girl Geek Scotland is calling on all colleges, schools, universities and tech employers to complete a survey to help it design role model and mentoring methods to connect girls in schools to women in the industry.
Once its survey is completed Girl Geek Scotland and SDS will work to promote projects in schools across Scotland and create a directory of ways mentors can practically help inspire girls in schools.
Evelyn Walker of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and chair of the Gender Work Stream for Digital Technologies Skills, said: “Role models and mentors are an incredibly valuable way of communicating just how much is possible if young people choose to embark on a computing science qualification.
“They can also show that there are a range of routes into the industry including IT work experience; Modern Apprenticeships; internships and graduate programs.”
“We want to hear from as many organisations as possible in response to our surveys so that we can create a full map of activities and encourage greater use of role models and mentors across Scotland.” Morna Simpson
“It’s really important that students and younger members of the workforce get involved with these projects. For that to happen we also need employers to recognise the value of giving staff time out of the office to take part. I know from my own experience that participation in such schemes helped with my professional development and volunteers can learn a lot to help with their own career aspirations.”
The Scottish Government has already revealed it plan to make Scotland a “world-class digital nation” by the year 2020. SDS cited the increase of women’s role in technology as part of a number of actions that need to be done to achieve that world class status.
A spokesperson for the government told CommonSpace: “As part of our World Class 2020 we are encouraged by any organisations undertaking mentoring initiatives. It is vital that the increase of young women obtaining careers in the technology and engineering industry is achieved, as it forms part of our strategy for a successful growing economy as well as fulfilling our ambition for encouraging equality.”
Equate, the women in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) advocacy group, released a report last September called ‘Rising To The Challenge’ which asked respondents what they thought could be done to improve the representation of women in Stem industries.
The figures showed that over half want dedicated science ambassadors allocated to schools in Scotland. Fifty per cent said they would like to see a Scotland-wide campaign initiated to promote Stem careers for women. Additionally almost half of all young people between the ages of 12 -17 years want to see girls’ only spaces in which to learn about Stem
Picture courtesy of Bill Dickinson
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