When it comes to what they want to be when they grow up, many girls still answer “pediatric nurse” or “veterinarian”. That’s not bad, of course, but in many cases it’s at least a shame, according to those responsible at Tech4Girls. Because there is often an interest in girls at an early age in what are supposed to be boys’ topics such as computer science and programming, which could lead to IT jobs, but it is encouraged far too rarely. The project starts right here. TECHBOOK supports his important work, and you can read about it here.
Whether programmer, computer scientist or game designer – in the IT industry career starters have the best prospects. Because already now the demand for good people is higher than the supply. The fact that this is the case is probably due to the fact that only a few women work in this area; According to a survey by the job platform, their share in IT jobs is “honey pot“ at only around 16.6 percent. In order to close this gender gap, the work of Tech4Girls (a project of the NGO TechEducation) starts with girls of primary school age. TECHBOOK supports the organization and presents it in more detail below.
»An interest in IT belongs in elementary school
Tech4Girls encounters a primarily European problem. On other continents, the willingness of girls to take up IT jobs – and also scientific professions, by the way – is much more pronounced. This can pay off for them, because developers and co. usually earn well.
According to Katharina Wohlrab, Managing Director of Tech4Girls, the fact that so few girls in Germany are enthusiastic about technology is due to the gender stereotypes that are common here. These “influence what we like, what we don’t like, what we wear, what we eat and what we say,” she tells us, and so they solidified around age 11. It is not even unusual for girls up to this age to be interested in so-called MINT subjects (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology). But that is rapidly decreasing, as studies apparently also show. “At the age of 11, most girls think that they don’t know technology anyway,” says Wohlrab – “without ever having tried it.”
Girls declare that they can REALLY be anything
Wohlrab himself was “a really stereotypical girl”. She was never interested in IT and was never really made aware that there was an alternative for her. “Although my parents said that I can be anything,” she admits. But as it seems to be the case with her, this is only partially true for 90 percent of the children. Because at home, girls are still not supported enough when it comes to rethinking, and stereotypical prejudices are fueled further at school. So how were they supposed to come up with the idea that a career in the male-dominated IT industry might be right for them, or at least within the realm of possibility? There is a massive lack of female role models.
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Awaken enthusiasm and train – the approach of Tech4Girls
Tech4Girls’ mission is to get girls excited about technology so they can see IT jobs early on. At the same time, they should be equipped with the necessary skills and thus be prepared in the best possible way for the challenges of the future. And that’s where they spend most of their time during the week: at school.
subjects and AGs
At the educational institutions with which the project cooperates, Tech4Girls offers AGs (= working groups) for girls from the 2nd grade and then an additional elective subject (e.g. EDP or IT) from the 5th grade. The ostensibly female coaches come from practice. Often they are master’s or teaching degree students in educational sciences or computer science, but often also company founders or professionals in the relevant areas. In addition, guest speakers are regularly invited to the courses – the missing role models.
The schoolgirls are given notebooks with exercise sheets as well as material boxes for offline activities in order to consolidate or expand their newly acquired knowledge. There is now also a Tech4Girls YouTube channel with instructional videos, and according to the website, an app is being planned. They receive a certificate so that they have something in their hands after completing the course.
Measures for consistent quality
In order to ensure a consistently high quality of the course, Tech4Girls holds further training courses with the coaches and provides them with detailed course plans, which the parents can also find out about. And they do that in large numbers – the participants report a very high level of commitment from numerous satisfied mothers and fathers. In addition, feedback is regularly obtained from the students in order to question something about the processes if necessary.
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Tech4Girls needs financial support to keep growing
The project is (as of today) represented at 52 schools in Berlin and Brandenburg, making it the largest AG provider in the region. This is possible thanks to project contracts and parental contributions. The team urgently needs further support in the form of donations in order to be able to get girls fit for IT jobs – and also at schools with high financial burdens that have to be financed. Around 2,000 euros are enough to teach two courses, each with 12 girls, for six months.