Sarah Atkinson, VP Communications for CA Technologies, writes a guest blog on the importance of reaching out to young female talent to bridge the digital skills gap. Sarah is the Youth in Tech champion on techUK's Women in Tech council and also sits on the main board.
The Girlguiding Girls Attitude Survey 2017, provides some fascinating insight into girls’ perceptions and one point that struck me was, despite the numbers of girls taking technology subjects, 76% of girls aged 7-21 feel confident in their digital skills.
This is encouraging and represents an un-tapped opportunity for schools, parents and the technology industry as a whole to connect with girls to help them learn about careers that fulfil their ambitions. This confidence in digital skills has to be supported, so that these girls pursue their interest in digital and are not dissuaded by gender stereotyping. STEM is not just for boys, please.
Despite the confidence that these young girls have, only a third of them would consider a job in technology.
Here at techUK, we want to improve this statistic, and in order to do so, we’ve found one of the most impactful program is from the WISE Campaign and it is called People Like Me. It is a revolutionary approach that uses girls natural tendency to create and articulate their self-identity with adjectives to help them see themselves working happily and success in STEM. The pack aims to equip teachers and STEM Ambassadors with engaging content for girls aged 11-14 years old.
At CA’s Girls Can Create Tomorrow Event, over 100 girls took part in a People Like Me workshop and the reaction was so positive. The girls were surprised at the range of job prospects out there and didn’t know that many tech roles which were not solely development focused. The challenge here is to reach more girls and scale the program, so WISE has launched People Like Me Goes Digital – and there are still opportunities left to get involved.
The Girlguiding Girls Attitude Survey 2017, also highlighted that the industry needs to think about using YouTube as a platform for engaging young girls and showcasing female technology role models.
A quarter of girls aged 7-11 say would take advice from a YouTuber over their own parents. Over half the girls in the survey said YouTube was the main place they would go to find out about something, and no wonder, considering there are thousands of videos out there, ranging from product reviews, to dance routine tutorials.
So the call to action is clearly to go digital to reach and engage with our young female talent.
For more information about support People Like Me Goes Digital, please contact Ruth Farenga at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on techUK's Women in Tech Programme, get in touch with Doniya Soni