Here’s how we make tech tempting to girls

Last year, Jewish Interactive (Ji) organised a hackathon for 50 children aged 12 to 18 of different faith backgrounds. While it was really successful, it was disappointing to see that only five out of the 50 were girls.  I started to look into some statistics of girls involved in technology. 

PwC recently looked at the role of women in tech. In STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, women accounted for only 15 percent of employees. More distressingly, there are few signs that this number will rise without extra action, as only 15.8 percent of undergraduates in STEM fields are women.

Leadership examples can be key towards encouraging more participation among women, yet only five percent of leadership positions in STEM fields are held by women. In PwC’s report, The Female Millennial – A New Era of Talent, researchers found that young women want to work with employers with a strong history of inclusion, diversity, and equality. Many women see the low number of women in tech and choose to enter other fields. In our faith communities, this could be even lower.

Seeing five girls out of 50 children suggested that perhaps the technology industry was not communicating effectively enough to girls –  there are a full spectrum of jobs open to them, regardless of their interests and skill sets. With the negative aspects of social media often causing parents to resent technology (I’m one of them) it is not a career option we think of for our daughters – an option that can allow them to have significant impact in their field of interest, while being able to keep flexible hours, work from anywhere and be paid competitive salaries.

This gave Ji the impetus to approach female role models across faith communities, such as  Karen Harris, managing director of MD of IntuDigital, a Jewish woman who has embraced technology and become an effective leader, without compromising her faith or womanhood.

Together with other strong rolemodels in our community  and other faith communities, including  Intu, Xexec, Women of Wearables, Soda, L Marks, Bomb Petite  and Jewish News,
Ji  has created a Girls Do Tech event  in Westminster on 6 and 7 October to show girls of all backgrounds that these careers are truly within their reach, no matter whether or not they are keen on maths, engineering and coding. All they have to do is sign up. Who knows where it will lead?


About the Author
Chana Kanzen is chief executive, Jewish Interactive 
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