Girls in Technology
Close to one hundred 8th grade girls from five elementary schools in Iceland were invited by Reykjavik University, and four Icelandic technology companies to take part in the first "Girls and ICT" day to be held in Iceland. The aim of the day was to present the many career opportunities for girls in fields related to information technology.
The participating schools this year were Austurbæjarskóli, Laugalækjaskóli, Hlíðaskóli, Hörðuvallaskóli, and Garðaskóli. The project was supported by Reykjavik University, The Federation of Icelandic Industries, The Icelandic Digital Society (Ský), Skema, GreenQloud, and /sys/tur. The project also received a government grant in 2013 intended to support equal opportunities.
A shortage of women in technology industries
Globally there is a shortage of experienced and qualified staff in ICT. In addition there is a huge disparity between the number of women and men enrolled in study programmes at the university level in ICT. Women account for just around 20 % of university students in ICT related education in Iceland despite the fact that women are the majority in university level education overall.
The ICT industry has rapidly grown over the last two decades to become one of the largest industries in the world and there is a huge demand from industry for ICT professionals. The aim of the "Girls in ICT Day" is to encourage girls to pursue a career in ICT by showing them what the industry can offer and to break up the stereotypes of ICT jobs as a predominantly male orientated field.
Workshops and company visits
During the day workshops were held at Reykjavik University that were managed by Skema, /sys/tur and the School of Computer Science at Reykjavik University. The girls were presented with challenges in web design, programming and artificial intelligence. Following the workshops the girls were invited to four different Icelandic companies: Advania, GreenQloud, Hugsmiðjan and Marorka where they were given an insight into how a future career could like and the chance to meet female role models.
Girls in ICT Day
"Girls in ICT Day" is celebrated all over the world on or around the fourth Thursday in April every year and is supported by both the ITU ( The International Telecommunication Union) and the European Union in relation to the Digital Agenda. This is the first time that Iceland has participated in the programme
Marking the beginning of a new cooperation
The day also marked the beginning of a partnership between ECWT - The European Centre for Women and Technology and Reykjavik University, who will manage the activities of the association in Iceland and act as the national point of contact. It is the hope that this day will be an annual event and will help attract more girls into education related to ICT education and ICT careers.