SUPERHEROES TURN GIRLS INTO TECHIES

SUPERHEROES TURN GIRLS INTO TECHIES

TECH Girls Movement and Diverse City Careers are banking on the trusty superhero to push kids into STEM careers and Google is backing their idea.

The female-founded organisations have been working hard solo to come up with innovative ways to skyrocket women through science, technology, engineering, mathematics and other ICT careers.

Non-profit Tech Girls Movement has been laying groundwork and sparking interest in primary school girls, while Diverse City Careers works with clients including Dropbox and IBM to leverage professional women up the career ladder.

Social enterprise Diverse City Careers' co-founders Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva (pictured above left-right) are teaming up with Tech Girls Movement creator Jenine Beekhuyzen (pictured below right) for the first time for a Brisbane event that will take place on March 12.

Students from years 1 to 7 are invited to learn about careers in the industry, participate in creative games, share lunch and create their own 'superhero', coinciding with the launch of the second Tech Girls are Superheroes book.

Google will support the initial distribution of more than 9500 books to every school library in Australia. 

A Kickstarter campaign funded production and distribution of 20,000 copies of the first Tech Girls are Superheroes. Beekhuyzen hopes the support of partners like Diverse City Careers and Google will see the second book's distribution soar higher.

She believes the position of the superhero in popular culture, evidenced in box office sales, will also fuel distribution.

"Tech Girls Are Superheroes is based on research myself and colleagues have been working on for at least the last decade, through which we decided it would be effective to inspire young girls by using superhero characters, as we all have inherent superpowers, or at least the little ego inside of us likes to think that," says Beekhuyzen.

"From the feedback, we know we have struck a chord - now we just need to dial up the volume."

Brisbane co-founder of Diverse City Careers, Gemma Lloyd, has worked in ICT for around a decade and so has fellow co-founder Valeria Ignatieva, who is based in Melbourne.

She says creating a pipeline of women in these fields is a foremost priority and this obviously starts in formative years.

"With women making up less than 30 per cent of the IT workforce, creating a pipeline of women in ICT is a crucial initiative, and many of our clients have a strong focus in this area, which is great to see," she says.

"There is ample evidence that diversity breeds creativity."

Beekhuyzen is privy to this lack of diversity, teaching first year IT at university where very few females take her classes.  

She notes the rate of Australian school students, particularly female, participating in STEM subjects is actually in significant decline as we move further into the information age.

Beekhuyzen recalls that in the 10 years to 2015, the proportion of women studying IT degrees in Queensland fell from 23 to 15 per cent.

Tech Girls Movement and Diverse City Careers aim to turn heads on these figures, marking Superhero Daughter Day as a promising first step.

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