Tech-Girls Goes to London!
Tech-Girls is a grassroots organization that Kim Wilkens started in 2012 to address the gender gap in tech. Charlottesville Women in Tech and Tech-Girls joined forces in 2014 with the common goal of helping women and girls find support and resources in the tech industry. Since its start, Tech-Girls has grown to provide learning opportunities for hundreds of girls, host a series of local tech events like Girls’ Geek Day, and collaborate with local and national organizations to offer events and resources for girls and women in tech.
Last October, the Tech-Girls went international! Tech-Girls founder Kim Wilkens was joined by Tech-Girls volunteers Sarah FitzHenry and Camellia Pastore at MozFest in London–the world’s leading festival for the open internet movement. MozFest draws over 2500 attendees from around the world. The weekend experience is organized into thematic spaces that host 300 interactive sessions, art installations and workshops. Kim, Sarah and Cami ran the #TechGirlsChallenge pop-up station all weekend in the Youth Zone. The hands-on activities they designed helped participants of all ages get a better understanding of how the internet health movement relates to their everyday lives:
- Robotics, AI & Ethics: Have you ever considered how humans and robots should interact? How do you want the robots of the future to behave towards you and others?
- Privacy & Security: Why is it important to battle for your privacy?
- Digital Inclusion & Openness: How can all of our stories, ideas and creations be welcomed and celebrated on the internet?
While at MozFest, Kim met many inspiring young women including Aoibheann Mangan, an Ireland-based #techgirl who was named the 2018 European Digital Girl of the Year. Mangan is 12-years-old and wants girls to be inspired by STEM. She ran MozFest workshops and spoke at InspireFest. She even met Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!
“If you can’t see it, how can you be it? There aren’t really as many role models for girls in technology as there are for boys. If they had more female role models then they could think this is great and they’d be able to pursue STEM instead of thinking it’s a male-dominated thing.” — Aoibheann Mangan
We agree with Mangan 100 percent! There aren’t enough women and girls in tech and that needs to change! The gender stereotypes surrounding the tech industry imply that boys and men are better at math and computer science and this can be discouraging for young women to pursue math and science subjects. Changing these perceptions needs to start in early development. By creating more opportunities for young girls to see themselves in STEM, we hope to see an increase in women in tech.