Techno Girls was created by former Huntsville High School (HHS) student Julia Drewery in hopes of improving the proportion of female students taking an interest in computer science.
“I started the program four years ago to encourage girls to pursue careers in programming, engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers in general,” says Drewery. She then expressed her disappointment that she is now in her second year of chemical engineering at Lakehead University and her classes are still over 80 per cent male-dominated.
Although Drewery has graduated from HHS, her project carries on and a yearly Techno Girls event is still held at the high school.
Each year, HHS teacher Ian McTavish invites female elementary students to come to the school and learn about computer science. “We’re very excited about all the progress we’ve seen,” says McTavish.
“Techno Girls works by teaching girls the basics of programming, robots and the statistics of girls in the tech industry,” Drewery explains. “By teaching them, we hope to put the girls in a position of leadership. In the past, girls have even designed their own apps and then we had a competition to show off the different creations.”
Drewery believes that by teaching the girls the basics of computer technology, it will inspire them to have positive goals and initiatives surrounding women in the tech world.
“This year’s Techno Girls event had some amazing mentors to assist and demonstrate what women can do in tech,” adds McTavish. The mentors were Elizabeth Celentano from Kimberly-Clark and Kate Boyko from Inspire Tech Canada.
This year’s ‘Head Techno Girl’, grade 11 student Keira Brisebois, is a prime example of how the program works. When she was in grade eight, Keira participated in the very first Techno Girls meet up. Now, she is not only the co-captain of Huntsville High’s robotics team, but has also competed at the provincial championship level.
After attending the event in grade eight, I knew I would love tech. So when I started grade nine I met all the robotics team and kept coming every year. When Mr. McTavish first told us that not many girls were in the tech industry I wanted to change that. I want to go to school for genetics so Techno Girls has been an amazing learning experience for me.Keira Brisebois, Head Techno Girl
For this year’s annual meeting, the Techno Girls wanted to try something a little different.
“We had a few different activities,” says Brisebois. “The night started off with a talk from our mentors, Elizabeth Celentano and Kate Boyko. The talk focused on statistics of girls in the tech industry, what they can do to get involved and develop tech-related skills. We then showed the girls how to use ‘skill robots’ in a demonstration. Finally, we had a film screening of Hidden Figures, a film about the struggle of women in technology.
“Hidden Figures was really inspiring,” says Brisebois. “It made me want to get into tech even more.”
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