Girls Hack Ireland
Niamh Scanlon (EU Digital Girls of the Year 2015) helps a Girls Hack Ireland participant. Photo by Dr Kevin J Fraser/Insight Centre for Data Analytics

Girls Hack Ireland gears up for country tour

19 Feb 2016

If you’re in Wexford, Longford or Roscommon, and you feel left out of all the STEM programmes available to girls in the likes of Dublin, Galway and Cork, worry not, for Girls Hack Ireland is on the way.

Girls Hack Ireland is quite the popular organisation around these parts. Spreading the STEM word around the country, the SFI-backed group encourages girls under the age of 16 to think about careers in science, technology, engineering or maths disciplines.

We’ve had guest columns from some of its immensely talented pioneers, looked at some of its hackathons and even reported on the time Girls Hack Ireland taught almost 100 teens to code in one sitting.

But that was all very Dublin focused, something the organisers were aware of, so 2016 is the year of the tour.

After discovering that most STEM outreach programmes fail to make it out of Dublin, Girls Hack Ireland is hitting the road. So in a few weeks, Roscommon, Longford and Wexford will host events – with more to follow later in the year – to help spread the word beyond the Pale.

“For our first events in March, we’ll largely be looking at website designing, teaching the basics of HTML,” explained Ruth Blayney, Girls Hack Ireland programme coordinator.

The organisation will also be putting on projects for adults as, according to an Accenture report, parents remain the key influencer on what school choices young girls make.

“So we’re working on spreading the word to them, too,” said Blayney, who is looking at CoderDojo’s countrywide popularity as a target to aim for with Girls Hack Ireland.

“CoderDojo is very popular, but even in that we see a big gender divide, so we’re trying to change that,” she said. “Parents workshops might help with that.”

While the March events are website design, the May follow-ups will be more backend, looking at scratch programming. Then, around October, the final events will be focused on wearables.

Last summer, Girls Hack Ireland put on one such wearables workshop at Inspirefest, ‘Sew & Glow’, which allowed girls to build a gadget they could wear from scratch.

“It won’t be quite that for our October event, but we might do something similar,” said Blayney, who basically wants more girls to know the options in STEM,.

“We’re hoping for 20-25 girls per event,” she says and, with those under 16 needing a parent with them, it’s yet another way to get adults involved, too.

So, with the help of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, and the popularity of CoderDojo throughout the land, maybe one of these Girls Hack Ireland events is close enough to get someone you know involved, too.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Get your Early Bird tickets now.


Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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