Support is now available for students and people working in technology careers who want to volunteer as a role model or mentor for school age girls. The Digital Technologies Skills Group in partnership with Girl Geek Scotland have created a suite of resources, including free training webinars this month and in May, to help mobilise a new wave of role models and mentors who can inspire girls to study STEM subjects and choose digital technology careers.
The project is part of an action plan developed by the Digital Technologies Skills Group in response to new research, which found that women account for 18 per cent of those in digital technology roles in Scotland, with the gender gap starting at school. The report, Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together, identified female tech role models and mentors as an important means of helping young girls to envisage a future career in the sector. To have the greatest positive effect the role models need to be inspirational, credible and close enough in age to their audience that young girls can relate to them and their career path.
Morna Simpson, founder of Girl Geek Scotland, said: “We are really keen for more students and younger people working in digital technology roles to volunteer because their experiences can make an incredibly powerful impression on the girls they meet. This is the opportunity to be the change you want to see and help shape the industry of the future. We have created a framework with resources to help people get started and have even provided a handy script for time-pressed volunteers. The training webinars will cover everything from how to engage a teenage audience and why digital technology is important to the practical information and logistics you need before visiting schools.”
Cara Bullock, a modern apprentice with CGI, has benefited from formal mentoring and is keen to share her experience with the younger generation. “I am a Brownie leader so I invited a technical colleague to meet the girls and run a Raspberry Pi session,” she said. “They absolutely loved it and it was a big success. It was so different to what I experienced when I was at school and I hope it has shown them the fun and challenging side of digital.”
The training directory, available from the end of this month, includes case studies, videos, a presentation about digital careers, and two ready-to-use activity packs containing detailed instructions and all the resources needed to deliver interesting classroom sessions or presentations on careers in technology and tackling gender issues. Volunteers can also access two guidance packs that provide information and advice on how to talk to teenagers about technology and discrimination, and how to train to be a role model or mentor.
The resources have been developed with support from Digital World, the careers campaign for Scotland’s digital technologies sector. Developed by industry in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Digital World highlights the many opportunities available for people with digital technologies skills and showcases Scotland’s success stories in the sector. Training webinars for digital technology role models and mentors will take place on:
Thursday 27 April (19.30); Thursday 4 May (12.00); Tuesday 9 May (10.00); and Saturday 13 May (13.00).