Think Big TechStars: helping girls crack the code

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2015 on the 8th March, it’s the perfect time to recognise the achievements of women, and with 14.4m in employment in the UK that’s more than ever before.

In spite of this,  there are still some sectors where females in the workforce are under-represented. Take engineering for example, where just 7% of the workforce is women, and only 25% work as science, engineering and production technicians. This trend can be traced back to high school education where only 100 girls studied A-level computer science in 2013, compared to thousands of boys.

Think Big TechStars is working to combat this issue.  It aims to encourage and inspire girls to go into the technology industry and tackle any misconceptions by introducing coding to girls aged 10 to 16 years.

The sessions are not designed to teach the girls everything they need to know about programming, but to open their eyes to the possibilities: they learn the basics of HTML and CSS, and create their own website. Participants are also given the opportunity to learn more about what working in tech is like and meet with female role models in tech positions from our business.

The timing of the workshops in the girl’s education is hugely important: before they make their future career choices. Aided by volunteer mentors, attendees see first-hand the benefits of knowing essential programming skills and as a result, many leave with a desire to learn more. The sessions are a chance for participants to move past any preconceptions they might have about technical skills and to discover what they can easily achieve as they start to transform their attitudes towards tech.

And it’s not just O2 that are fighting to combat this issue. The Government’s Department for Work and Pensions is also working to support this, having recently launched a new campaign called #notjustforboys, looking to inspire women to make the right choices for them and support them in industries that are seen as male-only.


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