Out of the shadows: Getting teen girls into tech

Auckland – Hundreds of Auckland schoolgirls will later this month have a hands on experience how some of New Zealand’s most hi-tech companies such as Air New Zealand, Microsoft and Vodafone operate.

Manukau Institute of Technology and NZTech have produced Auckland’s Shadow Tech day to inspire young female students by seeing tech careers are not just for geeks.

Other high profile companies offering to help the schoolgirls on August 25 include HP, Orion Health, IBM, BNZ, Xero, countdown, SnapComms, Fronde and Spark.

A total of 16 girls will get a once in a lifetime opportunity as guests of Air New Zealand so they can experience a day in the life with some of New Zealand’s top tech professionals.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says there are not enough women in the tech sector because it stems from girls at school not being interested in the subjects and not thinking about the potential of a career in tech.

“So we’ve had to be a bit creative and we designed Shadow Tech Day, connecting a schoolgirl with a woman in a tech for a day. Once girls visit a hi-tech firm and start to see how interesting the roles are they are inspired and start taking tech subjects.

“Before Shadow Tech Days only about 30 percent of girls say they were interested in a job in tech. After the Shadow Tech Day experience 80 percent of schoolgirls go back to school and sign up for tech subjects.

“Only 23 percent of the tech sector are females, yet research is showing that gender balanced tech firms are 40 percent more profitable. And for the girls, tech roles are some of the highest paid roles in New Zealand, and the most flexible.

“It’s a complete win-win. This year over 300 girls in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are being inspired into tech subjects and a future in tech via Shadow Tech Day,” Muller says.

Technology is the fastest growing sector and third biggest export earner in New Zealand but there’s a significant shortfall of school leavers choosing to take up careers in the sector.

Auckland colleges taking part include Edgewater, Howick, Tangaroa, Carmel, ACG Parnell, West Lake, Rangitoto, St Mary’s, Lynfield, Baradene, Tamaki, Rosehill and Green Bay High School.

In this year’s Budget, the Government recognised growth in new and emerging hi-tech sectors such as the software services sector and promised to commit to continuing to make STEM subjects a priority. Shadow Tech is but initiative by the tech sector to help.

Shadow Tech