How to engage us in technology - girls share top tips on Girls In ICT Day

28 April 2016

Microsoft has joined forces with Girlguiding to listen to girls’ views on digital technology

Focus groups show a tech savvy generation of young women who are inspired by technology calling it ‘fun’, ‘cool’ and ‘creative’. However, girls can struggle to relate to digital careers and want to see more variety and creativity in how the industry communicates with young people about digital jobs.

On Girls in ICT Day, Girlguiding members share their top five tips for companies and employers wanting to inspire and engage girls in technology:

  1. Start young. As girls get older, the more they shut down the idea of pursuing a future in technology especially when making subject choices and decisions at school.
  2. Unleash creativity with purpose. Computing sessions should be fun, interactive and hands-on, with opportunities to explore how technology can solve problems in the world.
  3. Be relevant. When talking about technology and related careers, use familiar examples that girls can relate to from their everyday lives.
  4. Words matter. The creative, people-centric and design aspects of digital careers appeal more than technical descriptions of specific technologies.
  5. Meet us. Tackle perceptions, encourage girls, and build their confidence, by providing opportunities for girls to meet women already in tech roles.

The UK’s leading charity for girls and young women has joined forces with Microsoft to ensure girls’ voices are heard at the highest levels in the digital world.

Through a series of focus groups, which took place during Winter 2015/2016, Girlguiding members aged 7 to 14 were asked about their attitudes regarding digital skills and careers.

The findings show a tech savvy generation of young women who are inspired by the possibilities of technology. However, more needs to be done to capture girls’ enthusiasm for ‘hands on’ technology and transform that into engagement with digital careers in the future.

I use technology every day to communicate with friends and family but I hadn't given much thought to jobs within technology based industries as schools tend to make using computers quite boring. I think that if I learnt about jobs in technology in an interactive, imaginative and fun way, maybe I would be more interested and encouraged to find out more - Emily Roberts, age 14, from the 1st Binfield Guides 

This follows Girlguiding research in 2014 which shows that 56% of girls feel STEM subjects have the image of being more for boys and 42% think that girls do not enjoy such subjects as much.

A further 42% of girls feel there are too few female role models teaching STEM subjects or working in related careers (40%).

Gill Slocombe, Girlguiding’s Chief Guide, said, 'As the leading charity for girls and young women, we are committed to listening to what girls have to say and are really excited to be working with Microsoft to give girls a voice in such an important area.

'With more girls than boys dropping STEM subjects throughout school we want to explore further why this is the case and what needs to change to ensure girls feel these subjects and related careers are open to them and inspiring for them.'

Theresa McHenry, Senior HR Director, Microsoft UK said, 'The Girlguiding report highlights that we need to do more to inform young girls about digital careers, and at Microsoft we couldn’t agree more.

'Microsoft has been inspiring young people about computing and tech careers for many years, and we have a range of programmes to help them explore the exciting possibilities including DigiGirlz, Get On, and our partnership with the BBC micro:bit.

'We’re proud to join forces with Girlguiding to listen to the voice of girls, and use that to improve our work engaging girls with computing, coding, and related careers. We’re also delighted to be hosting over 65 Girl Guides at our offices in Reading for Girls in ICT Day, to get hands-on with coding and hear from senior women at Microsoft.'

Girlguiding is the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women, giving all girls the opportunity to grow in confidence and discover their potential in a safe, girl-only space.

The charity offers a hugely varied programme including everything from international travel and advocacy to events such as girl-only pop concerts and festivals.