One of the Montreal Girl Geeks mandates this year was to get out there and address the “lack of women in tech” issue from a positive standpoint. Rather than simply talking about it, we wanted to do something that would have a positive impact and help #changetheratio. Based on member feedback and our own strategy we realized we needed to start investing in getting the next generation into tech.
What better way to start then by working with elementary school girls?
4G Funshop for Girls
On May 10th I had the opportunity to hold three workshops at McGill with a total of over 200 girls aged 10-12 from the Lester B. Pearson school board in Montreal.
The event was called 4G Funshop for Girls and the goal was to expose grade 5 & 6 girls to science and technology. It was organized by Elisabeth Vanderveldt, with Genevieve L’Esperance (McGill undergrad and host of the YouTube channel GenINCtv) along with Clumeq, Microsoft and McGill staff.
From the moment the first group of the girls walked in and shrieked when they saw the lab full of Macs I knew I was in for an interesting day…
Due to a slight tech fail, the slideshow presentation that I’d prepared didn’t load, which actually worked out for the best. As soon as the girls heard we’d be building websites, they wanted nothing to do with Powerpoint and everything to do with getting in there and getting their hands dirty! I started with Q&A to get a feel for the group and understand which websites they currently use and if they had made any before. Facebook was definitely a popular choice, followed by Google, Wikipedia and Youtube. Many of the girls had also already built websites for class and personal projects.
The workshop I held was called “Building Websites: No Code Required” and I showed the girls how they could easily build a website using the sitebuilder Weebly. With the help of the TAs and myself, the girls were able to create their own websites and I was really impressed with the creativity and unique ideas. They quickly figured out how to add multi-media to their sites and it wasn’t long before ‘One Direction’ was playing in the labs much to the delight of the girls.
Some even wanted to add more complex features to their sites, such as the ability to have certain events occur when the user clicked on a page. One group of girls even explained to me their concept of ‘virtual pet horses’ and had an elaborate plan to design a site where people could customize and purchase virtual pet horses. Due to platform limitations, we had to scale back and instead came up with the idea of a set of pre-designed virtual horses to choose from
Their imagination has no limits!
All in all, I would have to say the event was a huge success. The girls were inquisitive, curious and eager to create. If we keep nurturing them and fostering an environment of creativity and learning, #changetheratio will be a thing of the past.
*Not familiar with One Direction? Well..neither was I until that day… 😉