To get more girls to take up and the sciences we need to stop talking about why they should and instead focus on the ramifications of them not partaking. Information Technology (IT) is an enabler and without skills in IT women will be left behind at the decision making table. Information Technology is a key enabler of business transformation; it drives almost everything that we do, how we get there, what we see, how we get information. It is part of our economic makeup, our lives and our careers depend on our understanding of, and use of IT. Information technology largely determines the way that we live our day-to-day lives, and is the method we use when we choose to act on our decisions.
Therefore, it is less about what girls might like about an IT career and more about a desire to have agency over their own life pathways. It will provide a greater ability for self-determination, self-expression and the ability to sit at the table with the decision makers and policy developers. In short, it should be a standard part of every child’s education, not just be offered to those that have a liking for it, or have an ‘aptitude’ for ‘the sciences’ and mathematics. There is no longer any need for educators to differentiate between what appeals to girls rather than boys, all children must learn information technology as a mandatory skill. It has to be that way for us all to be successful and I would go even further and suggest that a connection to the internet is fast becoming a basic human right.
Technology is the way the world now works so let us talk to girls about changing their lives, changing the world and having the ability to achieve their goals. If we do this, the argument for Girls and IT ceases to exist because we no longer need to look at why technology doesn’t appeal to girls, IT is just a fundamental part of their lifestyle.
Let us shake off the geek image because IT has not been about the geek for probably twenty years. Sure, it is technical but the same can be said about lots of things. IT is about solutions to help businesses perform more effectively so when you start to look at the outcomes and not the practice, it starts to change your perception on why girls need to be involved.
Increasingly girls and young women want choice. A choice to live a life that means something to them and the traditional views of IT with its developer geeks working through the night doesn’t send a message of empowerment to most women. Instead, many of us just wonder “why would you?” and the answer is simple. Someone needs to break down the barriers to change and discover new ways of being and sometimes that does mean working through to night because you are so passionate about the potential outcomes that you just don’t want to stop for anything!
Information Technology is about choice, it is about having the qualifications and skills that will give girls a voice at the table. It’s about innovation and the ability to communicate on a global scale. This is vitally important because technology gives women a voice and the enormous numbers of women using their voice via blogs, websites, and other social media just shows how important technology has become in giving people a voice.
Without knowledge and skill in Information Technology and the sciences women are in danger of losing that voice, so lets make it less about what they like and more about what is imperative for them to live a successful and fulfilling life.