For girls to choose tech, we must start with imagination
Women in tech are in demand right now, and with good reason.
According to the TechCouncil of Australia, 74% of today’s tech workers are men. Diversity of thought and perspective is lacking and is set to decline further with women making up just 10% of people studying a university qualification in tech related fields.
Research indicates that career aspirations and interests develop in young people at an early age, and we know that not enough girls are completing STEM based subjects at school and university.
So, what can educators do to help girls choose tech?
I believe that imagination and real-world application play an integral part in sparking a girls’ interest in STEM.
At Lauriston, our STEM program is founded on the belief that imagination makes empathy and curiosity possible, and we believe that these traits are often more important than the acquisition of knowledge. By putting imagination at the core of our STEM curriculum, we see our girls finding joy in their learning and being more comfortable in taking risks rather than fretting about ‘getting the answer right’.
We also focus on providing girls with the opportunity to tinker, enabling them to gain confidence in STEM from an early age. In Year 1, girls are tasked to design a sustainable fairy house for the School’s garden. They consider various shapes, materials and environmental challenges, spending time modifying and improving their designs on a graphics app. They then visit our FabLab to watch their designs come to life via a laser cutter.
As girls progress through their schooling, they need to be provided with a better understanding of the range of tech and digital career pathways possible, and how STEM and tech careers make a positive difference on people’s lives.
Accenture’s Year 13 research shows just 33% of young women consider a career in tech, compared to 69% of men. My experience is that girls are more likely to opt for careers in tech if they have exposure to female practitioners and relatable role models.
All students at Lauriston get the opportunity to hear from female programmers, engineers, designers, and scientists as part of various incursions/excursions, via our student futures and pathways program, and through community mentors. Guest speakers help girls relate to and understand the variety of STEM related career pathways that exist. The more exposure to others, the better.
I believe we can inspire and empower today’s young women to choose tech and am hopeful that we will see the proportion of women working in tech grow over the next decade.
Susan Just, Principal
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