Students are informed and inspired by digital technologies professionals sharing insights into their jobs.
Providing girls with role models for computer science careers
Tim Harford: In the digital technologies programme, we were looking to make connections with industry on areas that were relevant to what we were teaching.
We approached a range of companies and we told them what we were looking for. We told them which subjects we studied and what the girls were looking for. We asked if they could help us. All of the companies we approached were very helpful. So far this year we’ve had a company called Catalyst who sent an accessibility specialist to visit us and talk to our class about that topic, and we had another company in Wellington here, called Abletech, who sent four of their developers, twice now actually, to talk about programming and web development. Later on this week, we’re actually going to Datacom down in Wellington, where they have two developers speaking to us as well.
The girls have absolutely loved it. They’ve loved hearing actual professionals speak about their jobs – speak about how they got into the industry, talk about the range of jobs that they do – which the girls found really interesting. And now they’re just asking me every day when we’re going to visit those workplaces, so we’ll be doing that soon.
So a problem that we identified early on was that the girls don’t really understand where our subject heads in the future. They have a general idea of using computers and writing some code but they don’t understand what they’ll study at university or what careers are available. So when we talk to these companies we say, could you also please explain to us what careers are available, what sort of work do you do.
Most of the companies have asked if we would prefer to have female engineers and developers and managers speak, which we’ve loved. It’s been really good. So the girls get to see that they do have a path in that area because we are trying to get past that stereotype of the male-dominated, I guess kind of an anti-social sort of career path, which it totally isn’t.
We visit these companies and they are really modern work spaces, they’re very spacious, very well lit. The people often choose to work on what they’re working on and where they head. And it’s a very collaborative sort of environment, so it’s not just they’re given this task to do. They all work together. There’s a lot of communication, a lot of teamwork.
We’ve worked really hard to get a really wide range of these in our area and we’re seeing how effective they are. We’re now looking at how we can use this in the future and I think that’s really important in our area especially, digital technologies. There's a lot of people who are willing to work with us. We just need to ask them and tell them what we want and what we need and those companies are really keen to get out and help us and talk to us and show our students what it’s like out there.
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