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Tuesday, 12 August 2014 19:28

Over a thousand high school girls Go for IT Featured

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Students at Go Girl for IT getting involved with technology Students at Go Girl for IT getting involved with technology Deakin SEBE Twitter

Over 1300 Victorian high school girls have declared 'IT is it' at a massive event held to learn and talk about careers in IT.

Go Girl Go for IT, a free career showcase and extravaganza held at Deakin University in Burwood, hosted hundreds of high school girls and their teachers today in a high-energy event that will surely see tens if not hundreds of girls subsequently go on to study IT.

An increasing number of high-profile tech companies are admitting they're failing when it comes to gender diversity targets - take Google and Twitter for example - and events like today are part of the fight back strategy to woo more girls into being excited about technology.

And the event organisers, sponsors and volunteers succeeded in a big way - the excitement and energy across the different rooms was palpable, which was especially surprising given ICT traditionally hasn't beeen the most exciting topic in the classroom.

Managing director of Twitter Australia and the event's keynote speaker Karen Stocks told iTWire having more women involved in technology was becoming easier as more and more local startups pop up and more conversations happen.

"IT is a fantastic levelling field, and we're seeing great female leaders in the tech spaces. These are new spaces, and there's no history of not having women in leadership roles in tech, so I think it's a great opportunity with a lot of new businesses coming out," Stocks said.

"The biggest issue historically you see in the tech industry with women is around engineering. And when we look back it's because when we go to have a look at our recruitment tools, you're just not seeing females taking the subjects in university. So events like this are just critical, and phenomenal around promoting the STEM subjects, getting females into university, getting the skills they need to, and I think that's where we need to start."

Go Girl for IT co-director Fi Slaven said the event was a strong tool as part of a conversation educators and parents need to have with their girls.

"People worry about once people are in promoting and retaining women, which is absolutely essential, but you need to get them there in the first place and you need to have that conversation from the very start," Slaven told iTWire.

"Times have changed - and now the conversation we're trying to have is that women are capable of doing anything, and that they have a real choice in their life. And if their parents or teachers or career advisers haven't had some insight, then they won't be given those options. So this day is a great way of having that conversation and just getting the buzz.

"There is no other industry that is universal, paid well, you can travel, and you can't even name one thing that doesn't use technology. Someone that's collecting the garbage needs a GPS! And I think some women and some career advisers don't get that. So this is a way of saying you can do it."

The event, which ran for most of the day from 9am to 2.30pm including a DJ dance break intermission, featured a number of speakers including female representatives from NAB, Telstra, IBM, Deakin University, Coles, the Tech Girls Movement and a whole host more, who often touched on their own careers and how they each fell in love with tech.

A key theme was that coding isn't just for 'old white guys' and instead is part of every aspect of our lives - a fact not lost on the girls present.

"It was crazy just how much impact tech has on everything we do," one student said during the break. "I didn't fully realise it before today, but you don't have to code necessarily to work in tech."

Another said she woud "definitely check out university ICT options," a sentiment echoed by a number of the attendees. 

Go Girl for IT 2014, with its oodles of pink sashes and bright smiles, was a highlight in a sometimes-drab calendar of events and is sure to be back bigger and brighter next year, as more and more girls discover the wonders that tech has to offer.

For more information check out the event's website, and for related news check out the launch of Girl Geek Academy back in July.

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