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One of the most important things parents can do for their daughter’s future is encourage a real love of technology – their lives could depend on it.
Studies show if girls are not exposed to STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – between the ages of 9 and 12 they are unlikely to consider it as a career option and while it’s estimated that 75 per cent of jobs in the future will require STEM skills, they’ll automatically be sidelined for roles in the workforce.
Currently, less than one in five senior researchers in Australian universities and research institutes are women, only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women.
Experts believe girls shy away from pursuing STEM at an early age either due to negative stereotypes about their intellectual abilities or about being branded “nerdy” or socially awkward.
They say providing learning experiences that are fun and engaging for girls as young as possible is the best way to encourage tech as a career option.
Australian author Alex Miles recognises the urgent need for young girls to develop an interest in tech and has teamed up with global movement Girl Geek Academy which aims at increasing the number of women with successful technology and games careers.
Their programs include hackathons, school holiday workshops, career incubators, work experience programs and corporate collaborations to make technology accessible and exciting for young girls.
And as part of her collaboration, Alex has written a novel to show girls just how empowering and fun a career in tech can be.
Called Girl Geeks, the book is about a gang of 10-year-olds who design, make, game, hack and code, and shows how empowering and fun a career in tech can be. There is also a deeper message of clever problem solving, belonging and above all the power of friendship.
She said technology is one subject many parents feel quite threatened by and her book gives them an introduction to what kids are learning, enabling them to have a conversation around the technology with them.
“The time has come for us to make real changes and encourage girls to look at tech as enjoyable, fun and a career prospect,” she said.
“For too long STEM subjects have been seen as a male domain, but what people don’t understand is that there are so many different skills sets and personalities needed in the industry, nothing could be further from the truth that it’s for nerds.
“It is such an exciting industry to get into with so much scope and variety and young girls need to be encouraged as young as possible to get involved in it.
“And that encouragement doesn’t just need to come from schools, parents need to get on board as well. Tech can be a bit scary for a lot of parents, it really is a case of what you don’t know you just don’t know.
“I hope my book not only encourages girls to consider a career in tech but give parents the confidence to talk to their daughters about it and be able to encourage them.
“It is so important for girls to be a part of what will be commonplace in the future and they really need to start as early as possible.“
Top 5 Tech Holiday Activities
School holidays are jam-packed full of fun, from activities to sports to family time. To help challenge your children’s minds and creativity, it’s a great idea to include some tech and science-based learning over your children’s break. Learning about technology is a wonderful way for children to understand how the world is changing, set themselves up with skills beyond the classroom, encourage problem-solving and critical thinking, be creative and most importantly gain confidence,
Girl Geek Academy, the group helping one million women and girls to learn technology by 2025, is here to tell us the top 5 tech holiday activities that you can share with your kids.
1) Take a trip to your local science museum.
A perfect day out for the whole family, science museums are designed to help young people to play with science – and they are bursting with things to challenge curious minds of all ages. Most museums have special activities on during the school holidays – you can check the schedule here.
2) Courageous play
Rather than only using ‘play-time’ as a way to pass the time, try some courageous play at home with your kids. Courageous play is focused on firing up the imagination of your kids using building blocks or other making toys. Take some household toys – for example, Lego, building blocks, or Hot Wheel tracks – and talk about creating something big and bold with your child. (An important note here, encourage a range of play with varying toys and don’t be limited by stereotypes around ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ toys as you can reinforce unhelpful mindsets.) Work through the problems and solutions of creation together. This will help to develop spatial skills, spatial talk as well as physical motor skills, that are all linked to skill development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics more broadly later on. It also builds their confidence in their ability to make something significant or exciting – a great foundation for developing our young people’s entrepreneurial or making spirit!
3) Attend a Girl Geek Academy Workshop!
Girl Geek Academy run fun school holiday workshops that all aim to make technology accessible and exciting for both women and young girls. Past workshops have included #MissMakesCode (coding and tech confidence for girls aged 5-8 years old), cybersecurity, gaming and a special workshop for women and young girls to learn to code together. This month there will be launch parties for our new Girl Geeks book series (more on that below!) so head to girlgeekacademy.com for our current workshop dates – but if there’s nothing in your area, it doesn’t mean there won’t be something soon! Sign up to the mailing list to be the first to hear about new programs.
4) Learn to code from home
No matter what level of experience your child has at coding, Code Studio has fun and engaging activities to help them learn while having heaps of fun. Ever wanted to code your own dance party, build an app or even create your own game? It’s all here – and it’s completely free! There’s programs for children as young as five and go all the way to high school and university level, so there’s bound to be something to keep them challenged and entertained. Head to https://code.org/ and check out the Hour of Code for an easy place to start.
5) Read the newly released ‘Girl Geeks’ book series!
Girl Geeks is an exciting new series for ages 7-12 that brings to life the sensational adventures of four 10-year-old girls who design, make, game, hack and code their way through school. There is something magical about the journey young girls go through as they learn about who they are as an individual and how friendship can make them stronger. The books were written by the children’s author Alex Miles in partnership with Girl Geek Academy! They are available online or from all good bookstores. If you would like to organise a Girl Geeks book signing event in your local area, send the team a note at [email protected] and they will be in touch.