If you thought girls weren’t as interested as boys in the tech area the 1700 attendees at Go Girl, Go For IT, Australia’s largest free tech conference for school-aged girls, last year would indicate that you’re mistaken.
The event, recognised by the United Nations, will host girls from over 70 Victorian schools with the aim of educating and inspiring female students to consider a career in STEAM.
Vic ICT For Women at Deakin University’s Burwood campus will be the location for the full day conference introducing female students from Grade 5 to Year 12 to the rich possibilities a career linked to technology can provide.
Students attending will participate in workshops, get their hands on the latest cutting-edge gadgets including robots, virtual reality and 3D printing, learn about the varied career options in STEAM and hear from an array of inspiring female role models. Experimental design zones will enable students to touch, interact and let their creativity loose.
Women made up fewer than 25 per cent of students studying STEAM in 2019, there is also poor retention of women in STEAM positions. Of the total university qualified STEAM workforce in 2020, only 29 per cent were women and only a small 13 per cent held executive positions.
Travis Cartwright, the IT leader at Echuca Primary School said the event gave regional schools the chance to expose girls to the tech field.
“Being a country school over three hours away, there are not many opportunities for our girls to access anything like this. I thought this event offered girls who are interested in IT a platform to see that they will need IT skills in the future. Girls at our school are not exposed to ICT skills especially in realising where they need to use them and how most careers are impacted by ICT. This was emphasised by the speakers we had today, that anyone can do it and you are only limited by your ability to get there and give it a go.”
Jessica Huynh, volunteer and managing director, Go Girl, Go For IT, who works as an IT project manager says, “We need to help overcome stereotypes and misconceptions because research has shown that girls as young as 11 years old decide what they're good and bad at. Go Girl, Go For IT, specifically focuses on that age group to help them understand all the possibilities a STEAM career can give them.
“We conducted the previous two years as cyber events, so the prospect of girls getting hands-on with STEAM related activities for the first time since the 2018 event and being able to inspire and engage with them in-person is incredibly important,” she said.
Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen OAM, Ambassador for Go Girl, Go For IT 2022 is a renowned advocate for technology innovation and diversity in STEAM and says that nurturing diversity in Australia’s next-generation leaders will result in a future workforce that is better-equipped to solve real-world problems with technology.
“Research clearly tells us that more females in STEAM careers will dramatically boost our economy and yet, women and girls are 25 per cent less likely to know how to leverage digital technology for basic purposes than their male counterparts.
“With STEAM-based jobs some of the fastest growing and highest paid in the country and the demand for digital skills on the rise, programs like Go Girl, Go For IT play a vital role in exposing girls at an early age to the myriad of opportunities that a career in STEAM in a technology-led economy can offer and shows them first-hand that they are more than capable at achieving anything they set their minds to,” says Dr Beekhuyzen.
The event is completely free for students and sponsors are providing free transport and buses.
“We have hundreds of girls willing to make the journey for 2.5 hours each way on buses from regional areas. We are determined to make this accessible and inspiring for all. We are thrilled that one participating school, Yarra Valley Grammar in Ringwood, is bringing a massive 210 girls to this year’s event,” says Jessica.
Go Girl, Go For IT is for girls in Years 5–12 from metropolitan and regional schools around Victoria. It will be held on 18 August 2022 at the Burwood campus of Deakin University.