Students views on getting girls to consider tech careers

Students views on getting girls to consider tech careers

 

SSAT Aspirations Show Workshop July 2018
On Friday 6 July, Modern Muse ran 2 workshops at the SSAT (The largest & longest-standing network of secondary schools in England) Aspirations Show at the University of East London. The theme was ‘Leading Change’ and the workshop title was ‘Leading change to get more women and girls to pursue careers in technology’. The audience was year 9 and 10 students from: Melbourn Village College, Central Foundation for Girls, The St Lawrence Academy, Sprowston Community Academy and Loxford School.

A panel of five people leading change to get more women into tech told the students about tech projects that their organisations are driving, why they need more women involved and what they are doing to support this.
The panel was:

Claire Parker, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, T-Systems

Darren Earnshaw, Lending CIO, Barclays UK

Jake Attfield, HR Director, T-Systems

Liza Layne, Lead Business Systems Manager-Enterprise Services, Eurostar International Ltd

Sarah Hicks, Channel Manager for UK Education, Microsoft

Donna Robertson, Director of Modern Muse told the students about the Gender Pay Gap and the pending skills shortage in tech-related careers.

We then invited the year-9 students (over 60), male and female, to brainstorm how they would lead the change to encourage more young women into tech related-careers in groups and present their ideas to us. We advised the students that we would take their views to over 40 companies working collaboratively to encourage more girls and young women into tech careers under the umbrella of #techshecan.

 

This is what they told us:

Stereotypes
“Women feel pressured into picking subjects that are seen as more feminine due to gender stereotypes. This can change by socialising children in a different way and changing the mindset of society – men and women are both able to do the same jobs, in the same role and get equal pay.”
“It is seen as masculine; therefore, boys defend their masculinity by choosing it.”
“We need to remove stereotypes as girls may be scared off by more tech-based subjects or jobs.”
“Boys are encouraged to do tech more so need to encourage girls.”
“Push the idea that women can do what we (men) do.”

General
Tech is portrayed as being too serious it needs to be more fun, cool, and engaging.
We need to see different jobs in tech done by men and women.
Online games are based around boy-related themes.
Tech is perceived as too hard, we should teach girls that there are lots of jobs available.
We need to see different jobs in tech done by men and women.
We should educate people about the flexibility tech roles can bring for women.
Girls are afraid to make mistakes, we should highlight this is not a problem.
Bust the myth that tech attracts certain logical mindsets.

 

Media
Change the way women are portrayed in the media, remove stereotypes.
Use students to amplify the message about STEM in the media and via #techshecan
Remove the intimidation and promote tech careers.
Should have posters and more advertising to break stereotypes in tech/engineering.

Schools/Government
Tech is not important for schools – it needs to be given more emphasis.
When presented with limited options for subject’s science already takes two of them so we need to change priorities for education.
Recruit more female teachers, most technology teachers are male, and women think they are not strong enough for the job.
Educate teachers to open kid’s eyes, start young – Target 10/11-year olds.
Need to make students more aware of job opportunities, provide better career advice and be transparent about the rewards and salary in different industries.

Parents, Guardians & Influencers
We need programmes for parents and community influencers (older women), so they can see the benefits of tech careers.
Many parents pressure girls to go for more feminine jobs so we need to have education at home to change parent’s mind-sets to they treat girls as equals. Get male students on board as champions, male agents of change’ and speak out.

Role Models
Need role models – this can be done via both tech and personal engagement.
Girls are intimidated by the perception that tech companies are dominated by white men. Women know they can do it, but it can be overwhelming to be the only woman in the room. They need companies to demonstrate the reality and desire to change.
We need to see more women leaders and the different jobs in tech done by men and women.

Companies
They should come into schools and run fun tech activity workshops and get girls involved. They should do this consistently as it is more a one-off event.
They should be tasked to hire 50% of women, and if they can’t they should have to answer why.

 They need to start getting women into bigger roles.
They should have a job swap, so women see what it’s like to be in a tech role.

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