Information and Communication Technology is for girls too

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In a joint session at the start of May, GFS Leytonstone and Mile End took a group trip to the London headquarters of software company, Avast, to celebrate International Girls in ICT Day.

The girls joined a special session led by Janine Luk, a woman in tech who made a career change to coding three years ago after attending a coding bootcamp.

Girls were taught about the underrepresentation of women in STEM, while also being given the opportunity to learn about and discuss influential women in tech.

From a very young age, girls are discouraged from taking an interest in subjects like the one Janine works in. But STEM isn’t just for boys and men, it’s for anyone that enjoys it.

Research shows that women make up only 23% of STEM jobs. In recent years, the gender gap in ICT has grown, with the COVID-19 Pandemic making the issue even more serious.

If we wish to challenge these divides in adults, we need to start with the biases we teach children.

By introducing girls to role models that look like them and providing them with activities that encourage them to explore different subjects, we enable them to decide which path is best for them.

To encourage the type of critical thinking necessary in ICT, Janine played the sandwich game with the girls. In this game, the girls were asked to gave Janine precise, clear instructions for how to create her sandwich, reflecting the precision needed when coding.

Girls also helped Janine make a character and scene on Scratch, a computer coding game.

Overall, the girls were enthusiastic, engaged, and confident. They were able to speak up on things that mattered to them, with one girl sharing that the reason so few women work in STEM is because “the government is full of men who tell girls what they can and can’t do!”

We hope you’ll choose to get girls involved in STEM activities like these, so they can determine for themselves whether it is or isn’t for them outside of the influence of gender bias. Try out the sandwich game with your girls, you’ll be glad you did.

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