The pioneering Teen-Turn initiative is now well underway in Ireland, helping to get more schoolgirls interested in technology careers, with industry stakeholders in on the act.
Five DEIS post-primary schools have gotten together with nine technology companies under the Teen-Turn name to provide ‘Teen-Turnships’ for schoolgirls, with the programme starting earlier this week.
Once placed, each intern was assigned a female mentor and all those involved are now participating in a two-week tailored technology project. To round out the process, each student will vlog about their experiences.
With advisers including Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea, the students are paired with technology companies as close to their homes as possible.
This location tailoring was a key ingredient in the formation of Teen-Turn, with founders Joanne Dolan and Niambh Scullion adamant that upskilling schoolgirls was a key way to address both the general skills gap in tech careers in Ireland, as well as the more general gender disparity in the workforce.
“These girls are the future of Ireland’s workforce,” said Dolan, “one which is requiring, in increasing numbers, employees with STEM skills.
“By engaging in real relationships with the neighbouring community, participating companies have an opportunity to contribute directly to the development of a local talent pool from which they can draw.”
Dolan is a start-up consultant behind the now well-established Girls Hack Ireland initiative, while Scullion is a senior business analyst at IBM and a founder of Coderdojo Girls.
Research indicates that many teenage girls are unable to grasp what a job in STEM is like and this affects their choosing to study these subjects in school.
By experiencing these career choices in a hands-on setting, learning what it is to contribute to the very technology they use, participants can better understand their capabilities, as well as the general career opportunities available.
Among the businesses involved is mobile analytics company Swrve, with Oisin Hurley, VP of engineering at the business, saying it was “delighted” to be taking part.
“So often young women are turned off technology careers, even by their peers and parents, and an opportunity to combat that and create a new generation of female role models for tech is absolutely an opportunity worth grasping. It’s a small step to bettering the industry as a whole.”
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