Talking tech and careers – 10 ways to bring tech to life for girls
The lack of women in tech is a widely acknowledged problem. Digital employers are super-keen to see more women applying for tech roles, and achieve the diversity of skills the tech sector needs to flourish – but they also know it’s a complex situation.
So during 2016 they undertook a new piece of research through the Tech Partnership looking at how girls, teachers and parents perceive tech careers and what could be done to promote these roles more effectively to the women.
Here are 10 findings to pique girls’ interest in tech
Remind girls that tech is everywhere
Talk about how tech impacts every area of life, and that whether they’re interested in law or logistics, farming or pharmacy, tech plays a part in all these things.
Talk about supply and demand
Many careers that young women stereotypically aspire to are over supplied – this means either that entry is very competitive, or that salaries are lower. There are genuine skills shortages in tech, and it’s a growing sector, so good opportunities for secure, well paid roles abound.
Frame the skills requirements carefully
Tech doesn’t have to be technical – while there’s certainly a bright future for the maths whiz or programming superstar, the interpersonal and managerial skills that many girls feel stronger in are in high demand in digital roles.
Show them role models
and not necessarily the high fliers like Sheryl Sandberg or Marisa Meyer. Women who are starting out in tech, or building interesting careers with local employers, seem closer to home and so are more motivating. Campaigns like the Tech Partnership’s My Tech Future are full of real-life careers stories.
Focus on outcomes
Tech is a driving force in combatting climate change, improving lives in the developing world, fighting disease and promoting education. Putting the emphasis on these positive outcomes, rather than the techy stuff, can help girls in particular stay engaged.
Work with employers
Local employers are enthusiastic about showing what they have to offer and can provide inspirational speakers. Founders4Schools, the Careers & Enterprise Company, Inspiring the Future and STEM Ambassadors can all help fix up TechFuture ambassador visits too – or maybe you’ll have a parent with work-based wisdom to share.
Keep tech real in the classroom
In ICT lessons, this could be via projects such as the employer-led resources on TechFuture Classroom. They are all fully curriculum mapped, and teach vital skills through real life business challenges. Where possible, incorporate tech into other areas of the curriculum too.
Offer a range of routes to a tech career.
Girls who are university-bound might be interested in the Tech Partnership’s employer-led degrees, IT Management for Business and Software Development for Business, both of which attract category leading numbers of women and have excellent employment outcomes. Those who want to go straight into the world of work will find apprenticeships a stimulating alternative – which can even lead to a debt free degree.
Don’t forget the parents
Parents may not know much about tech, but they’re keenly interested in worthwhile, well remunerated jobs for their daughters. Make sure they’ve got the info they need to support students’ interest.
Get out and about
Nothing is more powerful than seeing the environments real people work in, and practising IT professionals provide powerful role models. Or a visit to Bletchley Park or a science museum will provide endless support for what you’re doing in the classroom.