Created by the Digital Technologies Skills Group and Girl Geek Scotland, the diversity initiative is looking for young women working in, or studying different aspects of digital technology to become role models and mentors for school age girls.
According to the Tackling The Technology Gender Gap Together research report published earlier this year, Women represent only 18% of the workforce in Scotland, highlighting the fact that diversity remains a real problem for digital technologies. There is growing evidence that companies with more than 30% of female executives show increased organisational performance, profitability and governance.
Research also shows that the gender gap starts in the high school years, with many girls in S1-S4 feeling that computer science was ‘just for boys’.
One activity which has proven successful in encouraging more girls to consider a career in digital technology is role models visiting classrooms and explaining why a career in technology can be a great choice.
The new initiative has created a suite of resources to help do just that. It provides background information on the issues surrounding diversity within technology, speaking to pupils and students about the gender gap and provides case studies, classroom activities and a directory of the organisations across Scotland and the UK which can help young people learn and access technical skills such as coding, game design and app development.
Morna Simpson, founder of Girl Geek Scotland, said: “Digital technology jobs are everywhere. Industries across Scotland now need people with digital technology skills in order to grow, remain competitive and innovate. And with areas like cyber security in the spotlight, those with the right technology skills are in demand more than ever.
“Scotland’s technology sector is one of the country’s most exciting, creative and successful areas to work. Yet still far too few women are choosing to pursue digital technology. We need more young, credible role models to help change the status quo and show girls how much they could achieve if they choose a career in digital technology. The best role models challenge assumptions, explain the industry and demonstrate accessibility of digital careers.
“Volunteers can make a difference by giving talks, running workshops, offering to help at after school clubs or special events, or even by being an expert that teachers can call on during lessons via video conferencing. Women who enjoy being a role models can also consider becoming a mentor, coaching and advising someone a few years younger who is on the same career path.”
Evelyn Walker, chair of the Digital Technologies Skills Group’s gender work stream, said: “It’s really important that students and younger members of the workforce get involved with these projects. For that to happen we also need employers to recognise the value of giving staff time out of the office to take part. I know from my own experience that participation in such schemes helped with my professional development and volunteers can learn a lot to help with their own career aspirations.”
The resources for role models and mentors have been created with support from Digital World, the careers campaign for Scotland’s digital technologies sector. The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy sets out its goal to increase the number of people in digital technology roles to 150,000 by 2021. Preparing young people for the digital future by improving digital skills levels is an integral component of this strategy. Career opportunities are significant, with an estimated 12,800 job opportunities available in Scotland annually.
The role model and mentor resources can be found on the Our Skills Force website: https://www.ourskillsforce.co.uk/be-inspired/initiatives/become-a-tech-role-model/
They’re free to download and share.