One of the primary responsibilities of the WIT program is to promote IT careers and education pathways to young females. In 2008-2009, the WIT coordinator would visit Year 11 and 12 students in local schools to promote IT careers for women. Unfortunately by that time, most of the students in IT classes were male! For this reason, the "IT Girls" initiative was begun in 2010.
IT Girls - secondary schools
WIT representatives work with regional schools to conduct IT careers sessions aimed at Year 9 or 10 students (male and female). We take the Lego Mindstorms Robots into these sessions and demonstrate the sensors, motors and relate to technology that the students are likely to have experienced in daily life. We talk about automation and creation of technology, rather than just using technology. At the end of the careers session, female students are invited to participate in the IT Girls Day on campus.
An IT Girls Day starts with an introduction to the program, then the girls are split into two groups. One group completes a Mindstorms Robots workshop, where they get the chance to program the robots. The other groups completes an Alice workshop - a 3D virtual worlds programming environment especially designed for teaching programming. After the workshops, the girls have morning tea and then swap workshops. At the end of the workshops, the girls are provided with a BBQ or Pizza lunch with current IT staff and students, and are then given a campus tour, and a sample bag with a copy of the Alice software.
IT Girls - primary schools
In the second half of 2013, we have expanded the IT Girls program to Year 6 students, and are planning an IT Kids program for males and females (associated with gender research) with some schools in 2014. If you are a primary school staff member and you would like us to include your school in this free program, please contact me today.
Can you help?
If you are a female in IT, or interested in IT, and you would like to volunteer to help us with this program, please contact me as we currently have several schools who wish to participate in 2014, and will require helpers.
The Schools Program has been a great success. Several papers have been produced on the effects of the program, and some of the instructional techniques used in the program. These papers can be seen on Dr Raina Mason's research page here.
Updated: 27 September 2013