More than programming: How we’re developing the next generation of leaders
For Valtech, the global tech_Girl programme is about much more than introducing school-aged girls to the basics of coding; it’s about empowering the next generation of leaders in a rapidly accelerating industry whose future depends on their input.
Our world is becoming ever-more digitised, with almost every element of our being involving a technical touchpoint. Those products, devices, platforms, communities are built by humans, for humans. To serve diverse communities, they must be imagined, designed and built by diverse teams.
The rhetoric that technology isn’t the playing field of women and girls is gradually dissipating, but there is much work still to be done. We exist in an age of unlikely role models; a time where Kim Kardashian will be known by most, and Ada Lovelace by few. The likes of Adele Goldberg or Katherine Johnson might not have the following they deserve, but they can be optimistic about the future. There’s now no doubt that technology is just as much a women’s world.
From Ideation to Execution; the tech_Girl Trajectory
‘Digitalisation and technology are shaping and creating our future societies. For us, we wanted to help these girls see that being a programmer is an exciting, creative and fresh career opportunity and our industry truly needs them.’ Says Funda Denizhan, the founder of tech_Girl. ‘We started the programme in 2014 because we wanted to be not just part of, but leading the change.’
In the time that it has been running, Valtech’s tech_Girl programme has introduced hundreds of girls to coding and technology across the globe. Initially running physical coding sessions in Valtech’s offices – taught by Valtech’s experts – now faced with the constrains of the pandemic the programme has moved successfully online.
“On June 22nd, 14 of ouroffices in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Dallas, NYC, San Diego, Bangalore, Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Florinopolis, Mexico, Denmark, and Sweden) will be running our program virtually,” explains one of tech_Girl’s primary drivers, Adriana Shulman. ‘In order to impact and reach these girls we have 2 mentors for every 5 girls that register for our programme. We make sure that we have a low ratio so that the girls can get more 1:1 attention as they learn about the world of technology. With our new approach and online teaching, we will still be able to reach 250+ girls across the world.'
With 8 years of the scheme under their belt, the tech_Girl team recognise it’s time to evolve the programme to include a broader agenda. ‘It has to be about more than just coding’ says Adriana, ‘We will be focusing on a more robust curriculum, that will teach young girls the skills they need to be future leaders in technology. Our curriculum will expand from web development, and also focus on design thinking, entrepreneurship skills, and financial education. We believe with these additional tools; this will open their possibilities for the future. We want to show these girls there are no spaces in this world they don’t belong; ask questions, think big, and claim their seats in the future world!'
“The impact in seeing the girls learn something new is amazing to watch; teaching them about all of the opportunities a career path in technology can have is wonderful to see a new world open up to them.’ Says Allison Abraham, Senior Vice President, North America, who originally saw the impact of the programme in Valtech’s Stockholm office and quickly extended the initiative across the Atlantic, ‘The impact on our own colleagues is equally as important. To be able to contribute to the goals we have towards bringing gender equality to a head and enacting change fuels our people with purpose, passion and pride.’
This isn’t a nice to have, this is an essential part of everyone’s future
‘In this context, our Diversity and Inclusion work must focus on how we support and empower current women in tech, and it must also excite the next generation that will come afterwards,’ explains Sheree Atcheson, Global Diversity & Inclusion Director at Valtech. ‘Reaching young girls of all different backgrounds is key, because we want to actively reach underserved and underestimated communities, helping bring opportunities directly to them.
At Valtech, we are here to engineer experiences for everyone, and we cannot do that without everyone having equitable opportunity to sit at the table, be heard and to have their insights actioned. As one of the leading global digital agencies, we have a responsibility to lead by example and leave things better than we found them – tech_Girl is one of the initiatives we’re proud to bring this mission forward with.’
Want to find out more about our tech_Girl initiative?
Get in touch!