Girl Geek Academy has partnered with technology business Deloitte Digital and online graphic design marketplace 99designs to pilot a first-of-its-kind work experience program where students from Korowa Anglican Girls School in Melbourne had the opportunity to work alongside industry experts to create their own startups.
Held from 26-30 November 2018, the program involved 40 Year 10 students, who had the chance to learn key STEM skills directly from industry role models at Deloitte and 99designs to hone their talents as “hackers, hustlers and hipsters”.
Teams of three then collaboratively built a startup, and instead of a “shark tank,” teams presented back to students in a friendlier “dolphin tank” format.
The week-long program was held at the OneRoof all-women coworking space in Southbank.
“Entrepreneurship and technology skills are key to the future of work for the next generation of students and we want to give young Australians a head start,” explained Girl Geek Academy Co-founder and CEO Sarah Moran.
“Gone are the days of running around getting coffees. We’re making sure students actually have the opportunity to experience work – and that the opportunities are immediately relevant and aligned with what young people are telling us they want and need to experience in these programs,” she said.
Korowa Anglican Girls School Deputy Principal Liana Gooch said the program equips students with valuable tools and insights, while spending quality time getting to know leading women in technology, STEM and the startup ecosystem.
“We are keen to ensure our students see the relationship between the STEM skills learned in the classroom and their practical application in the real world. It’s exciting to collaborate with industry professionals to bridge that gap and showcase what a career in technology actually looks like,” said Ms Gooch.
Girl Geek revealed that at present women only make up 16% of all Australia’s STEM fields, but through initiatives such as this, Girl Geek Academy is on a mission to reverse the statistics and teach one million girls and women to learn technology by 2025.
The #SheHacks Work Experience is a bespoke program, customised to individual interests and learning methodology. The program is designed to help students explore their interests and passions in the STEM working landscape, and to help achieve gender equality in industry roles and sectors which traditionally attract less women.
Ms Moran said the pioneering initiative is critical at this time when graduates face many uncertainties in the work market and are looking for more relevant employment experience that will help them to be truly work-ready.
“According to the Foundation for Young Australians it now takes almost three years to get a stable job after finishing education, compared to one year a generation ago. VicHealth recently hosted a deliberative forum bringing together a jury of 54 young people aged between 18-26 years to discuss the issues youth face in the workforce environment. The youth forum made a number of asks to the community to assist young people in the transition to purposeful work and the #SheHacks Work Experience program addresses more than half of these requests,” she said.
The six areas addressed by the #SheHacks program include:
- High-school students gaining life skills and knowledge through experience;
- Changing career-building culture in schools, universities and families;
- Building work readiness;
- Mentorship and programs to guide students and allow them to engage in different career options;
- Investigation into current and future professional landscape; and
- Guidance and education for youths starting new businesses.
The #SheHacks initiative will extend into high schools around throughout 2019.