Manchester Digital’s 2018 skills audit showed that only 36% of people working in the digital sector are female, and only 19% of these women are in technical roles.
Figures from the Wise Campaign also revealed that despite outperforming boys in STEM related subjects there are still not enough young women taking them up, with only 22% studying Physics and 12% in Computing.
Digital Her, an initiative by Manchester Digital, has one simple aim: to get more girls working in tech.
In partnership with Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), Auto Trader, BJSS and GCHQ, the Digital Her Inspire and Empower Roadshow is travelling across Greater Manchester’s boroughs throughout 2019.
Through workshops, activities and real life role models these events will inspire the next generation of 12-13 year old girls who will soon be choosing which subjects to study for GCSE. The mission is to break down stereotypes and gender bias in tech and digital, to show just how exciting, accessible and diverse the sector is.
We attended the first Digital Her event in Oldham in February to help inspire over 100 12-13 year old girls with our customer Wayra. An initial polling session about what it meant to work in tech and digital showed there was an overwhelming perception that tech is about complicated computing tasks, far too difficult to pursue a career in and usually a job for men.
Our task was set; it was time to do some myth busting and show the girls just how exciting and diverse careers in digital and tech really are.
Through a series of four different workshops designed by MSP’s customer Wayra, Auto Trader, BJSS and GCHQ the girls had the opportunity to code their own emojis, learn about the day in the life of female tech leaders, explore the variety of opportunities to work with digital channels, and even work on a top secret decoding mission designed by GCHQ.
Real life tech and digital role models such as Wayra’s Sarah Martin also gave inspiring insights about working in the sector, showing just how vast the career opportunities are. Sarah spoke about her favourite project in her career so far, which worked with the most advanced innovations in sensor technology for Cisco’s Connected Bees ‘bees with backpacks’ - to better understand and help bee colonies and populations.
So why have MSP got involved in this project? Here’s what our Managing Director Tom Renn had to say when introducing Digital Her to this first cohort of students on the roadshow journey: ”Encouraging diversity within the tech sector is massively important for influencing innovative technologies of the future that will benefit both men and women.
“We get to see this first hand from our customers at MSP who are working on so many exciting things, whether it’s new medical technologies that can detect cancer or improve our health, supplying smart energy to remote communities in Africa, creating video game and animation characters in real time, developing new social media platforms or using virtual and augmented reality. There’s no reason girls shouldn’t be having fun by getting involved in such an exciting and opportunity-driven sector too.
“Wayra and all the sponsors of the first roadshow delivered a brilliant set of insightful, thought provoking workshops and we’re looking forward to working with our customers ANS, M247, Wattl and others over 2019 to deliver more exciting workshops for the Digital Her roadshow.’’
For more information about Digital Her visit: https://www.manchesterdigital.com/digital-futures/digital-her