Empowering the next generation of Girls in ICT

St Mary's College hosted an International Girls in ICT Day event on Wednesday 3rd May. What an event it was! 70 girls, 3 speakers, 7 panel members, interactive activities, prizes, and great food! The event was supported by the ACS as the school is an ICT Gateway to Industry School.

The day began with an inspirational video featuring women in IT. Cynthia Gusman-Nolan from the ACS was the first speaker with her speech “Breaking Barriers: Women in Tech". Cynthia told the students not to “Fake it till you Make it" but to “Brave it till you Make it". This message was an important one for the girls and the feedback showed that they really resonated with that. With many of them saying that “It makes me want to speak up and be brave".

That was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Kirsty Patterson, the Technology Lead and eLearning Coordinator at St Mary's College. The panel consisted of:

  • Leigh Williams is the Head of Technology for Brisbane Catholic Education
  • Carly Green is the HR Support Manager at Employment Hero
  • Sandra Arato is a Software Engineer from Spotify
  • Brooke Fossey is the General Manager of Regional Business HG
  • Juliana Yepes is the Head of Event Response Team at CTM Professional Services
  • Alan Tran is the Managing Director and Founder of CTM Professional Services

The panel members discussed how they progressed in their career, what tasks they undertake, advice for girls considering a career in IT, what sparked their interest in IT, how technology can improve our lives and the world, and so much more. Calista commented “At first, I believed IT could be a job, but it wasn't at the top of my list. Now I know it's flexibility, I will be rethinking it."

There was time for a Q&A session after that and the students had some really thoughtful questions for the panel making the discussion even more engaging.

Morning Tea provided an excellent opportunity for students to network with the speakers and panellists. There was some great advice shared by the special guests and they were very impressed with the students.

After the break, the next speaker was Juliana Yepes from CTM Professional Services, Breaking into IT Security: My Path to Success". The students were intrigued by Juliana's story of coming from Columbia 6 years ago with no IT experience to now being the Head of Event Response Team at CTM Professional Services. They loved that Juliana spoke of how “I didn't choose IT, it chose me".

The last speaker was Alan Tran from CTM Professional services with his speech: “The Untapped Potential: Why Women are Vital to the Future of Technology". Alan explained that if we could get more women interested in the field of IT, it would help with the current skills shortage in Australia. He also explained that technology needs people to support it and there are many job opportunities that students may not have considered. He talked about roles that are available for those who are interested in Math, English and Art. Sophie said, “It has made be rethink ICT because I realise how many opportunities are available."

The day ended with activities and lunch. One activity run by Lila Sternfels was an interactive activity where students had to solve tech related puzzles. As they solved each puzzle, they received a part to a laptop. It was a race to retrieve all the parts, install them into the laptop and get the laptop to turn on. Another activity run by Kirsty Patterson, was a “Women in IT" quiz, where students had to find the answers to questions about influential women in IT. The last activity, run by Michaela Sanderson, was coding Arduino's to flash its lights in time with the song “Girls run the world". The girls worked in groups of different ages and schools and it was an excellent opportunity for them to collaborate with each other.

Kirsty said “The day was such a great opportunity for all girls, whether considering a career in IT or not. There was so much advice about life and careers in general that everyone would have come away with something."​


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