Encouraging girls into IT

St Hilda's Collegiate pupils (from left) Tyla Giles (Year 10), Bella Devereux (Year 10), Shreya Das (year 9) and Meg Rogers (Year 9) are looking forward to next week's IT mentoring session at Otago Polytechnic. PHOTO: HAYDEN PARSONS
St Hilda's Collegiate pupils (from left) Tyla Giles (Year 10), Bella Devereux (Year 10), Shreya Das (year 9) and Meg Rogers (Year 9) are looking forward to next week's IT mentoring session at Otago Polytechnic. PHOTO: HAYDEN PARSONS

Otago Polytechnic will become ‘‘tech heaven’’ for a group of 40 girls from around Dunedin on Tuesday with a new ‘‘ShadowTech Day’’.

The day, run by NZ Tech and hosted in Dunedin for the first time, will see the girls paired with female mentors in the industry.

They will spend the day with their mentors, learning about tech and how it is used in the real world, before returning to Otago Polytechnic to hear speeches by Heidi Renata, from Innov8hq, and Otago Polytechnic IT guru Ange Meikle.

Those coming from St Hilda’s Collegiate School are thrilled with the opportunity.

Year 10 pupil Bella Devereux said it was great timing.

‘‘Soon, we have to choose what to study for next year. So if we’re interested in the tech we learn at ShadowTech, we can take that as a subject,’’ Bella said.
St Hilda’s year 9 pupil Shreya Das is looking forward to the day of mentoring.

‘‘This is important because our world isbecoming more digitally dominated. We need to be part of it,’’ she said.

Lesley Smith, head of college of enterprise and development at Otago Polytechnic, said the aim of the day was to encourage more girls to take science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects at school.

By doing so, young women were keeping the opportunity open for a career in technology.

‘‘Our mentors are all successful women in the tech sector. This is an excellent opportunity for these girls to really experience what a career in the industry can look like,’’ Ms Smith said.

The IT industry is the third most valuable sector in the New Zealand economy.

Women make up more than 50% of the population, yet less than 15% of the IT industry.

Research showed that women were locked into a stereotype that IT was for boys, Ms Smith said.

‘‘I hope that ShadowTech can help put an end to that stereotype.’’

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