International Girls in ICT Day is a global initiative designed to inspire, empower and encourage girls and young women to improve their skills and consider careers in the fields of Information and Computer Technology.
As a future-minded technology company, AusRegistry of course sees enormous value in increasing the diversity of our industry in order to encourage a variety of opinions, experiences and skills to create better workplaces, better ideas and better outcomes for all.
In particular, as the official wholesale Registry provider for .au domain names, ensuring the future of Australia’s internet and technology industry is a cause of the highest importance to AusRegistry.
The workshop is a first-of-its-kind ‘hackathon’ for girls aged between five and eight years old, created to build confidence and self-efficacy in the areas of algorithmic thinking, programming and coding.
On April 24th, 25 female students from Queen of Peace Primary attended the all-day workshop held at the school, mixing and working with other participants who ranged from Prep to Year 3.
Through a range of online and ‘unplugged’ activities, they were introduced to some of the basic concepts of coding, learning words such as ‘algorithm’, ‘sequence’ and ‘iteration’. Using primarily drag-and-drop tools, they progressed on to creating short animations built with a series of instructions that made characters move and interact.
Why diversity in technology matters
AusRegistry Senior Client Services Manager, Maggie Whitnall explained the event’s significance to the team at AusRegistry.
“Increasing participation in technology is in perfect alignment with AusRegistry and the work we do. We are very passionate about our industry and having more women consider careers in this field so events like today are a good starting point for young girls to get a taste for coding.
“What we wanted to achieve with today’s event is to be part of encouraging and inspiring young girls, letting them know they’re on equal footing with the boys and just to show them how joyful, creative and inspiring technology can be.”
Teaching kids to code
Queen of Peace Primary teacher Josie Kirby said that the unique environment of all-girls across a range of year levels created a safe space where the students could discover something new.
“I like the way all the girls engaged in the task. The age ranges were five to eight and girls worked with each other implementing skills and information while having fun. It was non-threatening and allowed the girls to move at their own pace.”
Kevin Cronin, eLearning Coach at Queen of Peace Primary said the day had inspired the girls to continue exploring technology.
“The girls were very excited when they were chosen. Now they want to learn more and more, so we’ve invited them to be part of an optional fortnightly code club during recess breaks. Despite only being five to eight years old, the girls were able to explain the basics of coding and further developed an appreciation for the importance of ICT.”
Sarah Moran, CEO of Girl Geek Academy which recently launched its teacher training service for the #MissMakesCode program, explained that it is always rewarding to see young girls developing confidence in their technical abilities and getting involved in the activities.
“What’s unique about the #MissMakesCode program is that it is an all-girl environment. That’s rare in your education to have moments to just be with your girlfriends and learning together – unless you’re on the netball team or another activity that is seen as more female-focused. What’s really special about #MissMakesCode is that we’re taking technology and creating that environment around it. We hope then that they grow up with amazing social experiences with technology.”
Ms Moran explained that creating these environments of inclusion are vital not only for young girls but also more generally for women in male-dominated fields such as technology.
“Often the only difference between girls coding and boys coding is actually just the environment in which they’re exposed to it. We find that what makes a woman successful in a technology environment is just that they’re happy there, and that they feel that they’re welcome and included. That’s something that is fundamental to being successful – that you feel like you’re allowed to be.”
Teacher and Girl Geek Academy projects officer Helen Sultana said that the workshop had been very successful.
“It’s been fantastic. Some of them are working ahead of the class and others are just going along at their own pace. They’ve found it challenging at times, but once they’ve got it, they’ve got it and they can move forward.”
Ms Sultana said that parents can get engaged in technology with their children in order to foster their interest in the field.
“My advice to parents would be to play with your children or work alongside them when they’re using devices. Show an interest, encourage them and find out what they’re doing and have a conversation with them about it.”
Women in Technology at AusRegistry
The Girls in ICT Day event marks the 2017 major initiative for AusRegistry’s Women in Technology group. Since forming in late 2016, the group has worked to develop events and programs to upskill and foster networking among AusRegistry staff as well as conducting outreach activities in the technology industry and broader community.