There is a very real problem with getting female students to do coding courses and to choose STEM careers. Across OECD nations, less than one in 20 girls considers a career in STEM compared to one in five boys. In Australia women make up less than a third of Australia’s STEM-qualified workforce.
There’s much more bemoaning this problem than activity that seems to be actually making a difference. In that context these two programs aimed solidly at girls are really worth mentioning, and, if you are a teacher or parent of a girl, pursuing.
First there is Camp SEEK, run by the obvious recruitment outfit. This is a hackathon with more, so participants need to already be able to code at some level. Here’s what it involves:
It invites girls interested in tech in years 9–11 to come together for a week-long event to develop relevant skills and explore their career options in the IT sector. The aim of the camp is to get teenage girls excited about the variety of creative and interesting careers available in the tech industry, and to assist them in thinking about their high school subject selection, setting them up for a successful education and IT career trajectory. The camp culminates in a ‘create-a-thon’ where participants solve a real-life problem with a tech solution, which is similar to the regular Hackathons that SEEK run internally.
Then there’s the Tata Consultancy Services Go4IT work experience program. Female students in Years 10 and 11 can participate in a work experience program that aims to
- inspire students to consider a career and future studies in IT
- provide insight into varied roles within an IT company and the business world
- empower students to design and develop IT projects
- complement the school curriculum
Both SEEK and Tata Consulting deserve major kudos for putting these programs together and really doing something for girls interested in IT.