In October 2015 Apps for Good, Capgemini and the Tech Partnership launched the TechFuture Women’s Network. The Network invites women working in digital and technology roles to join a community of professionals taking part in programmes that promote technology in schools. The first opportunity available to women joining the Network is to become an Apps for Good Expert. In this blog Adele Every who joined the TechFuture Network shares her experience.
Absolutely awestruck, that was feeling I had when I stepped out of my last Apps for Good session. During the 40 minute Skype session, I’d been listening to app ideas from a group of students in Bolton. Their ideas ranged from an app which challenged classmates to compete with one another to finish homework on time, to a heart-warming self-help app for children with mental health problems.
I signed up to be an expert for Apps for Good, via the TechFuture Women’s Network last year after there was an internal news story explaining how people could get engaged. I was instantly keen to get involved and I quickly signed up to be an Expert ticking off the appropriate areas where I felt I could add most value (ideation and screening, marketing, career conversations). I felt so excited to be getting engaged in a programme that helps teach digital skills to the next generation! After several sessions I even started talking to my clients about Apps for Good and many were eager to become Experts too. This really demonstrates how important it was to pretty much everyone I spoke to in the private and public sector to teach digital skills to our children in order to widen their career prospects.
84% of employers in the UK believe it is important for young people to have digital skills, which really highlights the importance of helping young people build these skills. Worryingly a gender imbalance still exists with only 17% of women choosing to follow careers in IT. The facts speak for themselves, digital skills are no longer a nice to have, they are a necessity for both men and women, no matter what industry or career path they choose, and businesses of all sizes all around the country will look for and value those skills.
So how can we encourage all kids, girls and boys, to develop digital skills? I believe it’s about making tech fun and inclusive; gone are the days of the reclusive techy, sporting sandals and overgrown facial hair… today tech leaders are collaborators, communicators, visionaries and women (!!!). I try to bring out these messages, sharing my experiences and perspectives in the sessions with the students.
I have yet to speak to a student on the Apps for Good programme who wasn’t enthusiastic about their idea, who didn’t think it was fun. All of the students have been able to coherently discuss the idea with me, as well as openly and confidently asking for help and and taking on suggestions to grow their ideas. In learning how to develop their own apps, these young people are developing much wider skills than simply coding. They have become more connected to their fellow students collaborating on ideas passionately seeking to solve the problems they perceive in their own environment with a belief that they can and will make a difference.
Are you a woman in tech looking to inspire young people and help them discover the opportunities of the tech world? Join the TechFuture Women’s Network now, the first mentoring opportunity available is to become an Apps for Good Expert and help guide young people as they develop their own problem-solving apps.