If she can see it, she can be it

What is Project Prep?

Project Prep is a novel aimed at girls and young women that highlight the wonders of working in tech and is designed to empower and encourage girls to get into STEM subjects by highlighting positive role models. Originally written by Janneke Niessen, a serial tech entrepreneur, based in Amsterdam, she is now looking to publishing the book to the UK.

The problem:

“Around 90% of jobs are estimated to need at least some level of digital skills and we are facing a big shortage of skilled people to fill all jobs in technology. At the same time recent research shows that girls lose interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) already at age 15. The study uncovered the need for more female role models as crucial as well as the need to provide girls with the opportunity to express their creativity through hands-on experiences.”

After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.

As I was preparing the Code First: Girls course here in Sheffield, one of my aims was for the female students who took part in the course, to see the wider impact of their newly acquired digital skills. After collaboration with other societies and the wider tech community in Sheffield, we managed to get the girls involved in the women in tech community where they were exposed inspiring role models in STEM.

After collaboration with other societies and the wider tech community in Sheffield, we managed to get the girls involved in the women in tech community where they were exposed inspiring role models in STEM.

CF:G Python course led by Tania Sanchez

Importance of role models

Getting the girls involved in the wider community by encouraging them to go to women-focused conferences (e.g. Women In Tech and Empowering Women in Tech) has been the highlight of the course for me this year! It also nicely demonstrates the importance of role models, because they can clearly see where digital skills can take them – motivating them further into the STEM careers.

Role models are important. Even more so for younger girls.

As part of the launch, Project Prep will be featuring a number of interviews to highlight UK-based role models and women in tech on their blog.

First up on the blog was Marija Butkovic, a former legal professional and current Wearable Tech specialist who highlighted this quite nicely:

Role models are very important for women, especially at the very young age. When we think about role models for young girls, those are very often their mothers and teachers, which makes it even more important to encourage more women into STEM as they could become role models for their own daughters.

You can read her full interview here.

Tejay White and I explaining the importance of responsive website design

I’m excited to collaborate on the project – I was featured on their blog last week!

Although I am yet to be labelled as a woman working in the tech sector, I do am immensely involved in the community and have been working in getting involved in groups that push young girls further their STEM education.

As the running theme of this post is role models, I wanted to share this snippet from the interview:

Are there any role models who you look up to or have influenced you? And how?

Thankfully, I am surrounded by such an inspirational community of wonderful men and women who motivate me daily. They have all my role models and have been a positive influence on every aspect of my life.

I could talk about each one of them for hours but here are just a few who have had either motivated me in the work I do currently or my future plans.

Charlotte Fereday:-

Since officially “graduating” from Code First: Girls as the Programmes Manager, Charlotte is now working as a developer. She’s a role model to me not only because of the fantastic work she’s done with Code First: Girls and getting more young girls into technology and entrepreneurship but further proving to me, and other girls out there that:

  1. A) you don’t need a Computer Science degree to be a developer. Charlotte came from a non-technical background.
  2. B) Learning to code is a superpower, not limited to men. She’s motivated me to continue learning – I recently started a Ruby on Rails course thanks to her influence!

Bryony Olney:-

I currently work with Bryony in my placement year, assisting her with aspects of learning and teaching and using new technology such as the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in applications in Higher Education. Yeah, she’s one of those pretty cool virtual reality chicks.

She’s an inspiring role model to me because she’s another woman who proves that you don’t need a technical background to be working in a role that involves tech. Her passion for improving current practices in higher education using technology – which is a huge challenge – has shown me that being determined can get you further than you think!

I’m always so motivated to apply that mind set to continue pushing my own boundaries – personally and professionally.

You can see her current work with VR here.

Matt Burman:-

I first met Matt in November 2016 when he came across my blog and approached me to work in collaboration with the Sheffield CF: G course and HackSheffield, with the hope of increasing female participation in hackathons!

Matt has been a constant source of inspiration for me. His genuine passion for inclusion in tech is what we need more of from guys; after all, inequality in STEM can’t be fully tackled without support from everyone!

I can say that now, months later, through a joint effort, we’ve generated a lot of interest in hackathons. The two communities we’ve mashed together is such an exciting thing to be a part of – I’m really looking forward to their next huge hackathon next academic year. Keep an eye out!

He’s also reminded me why I love what I do online on my blog and growing social media presence, and driven me to keep improving myself – who doesn’t want to work towards being a better version of themselves?

You can read the full interview here.

Who has influenced you and who are your role models?

More on Project Prep

Website – Twitter – Facebook

9 responses to “If she can see it, she can be it”

  1. Pauline, you are such an inspiring. It’s amazing to see all the work you do for this community. Keep going strong!

  2. This is an interesting project. I’ve not heard of it, but I do like its goals and objectives. It is true that we are what we see and inspire to be. With the right level of committment and support, and the right mentors, people should achieve what they want to be without any stigma or biases that may hold us back.

    It’s great you were featured, and even better that you’ve been so involved. You really are an inspiration. Never stop doing what you love and want to encourage in others! <3

    1. Thank you so much Tara – means a lot! 💪🏼

  3. Wow, congrats on getting featured. And its such a great thing you’re involved in!

  4. I like the idea of Project Prep. It’s good that there are programs out there that encourage people to overcome biases and pursue a certain path. Having a female fulfill a role in tech is crucial because we can give some interesting insight from a different perspective. I strongly feel like girls lose interest in STEM because of ~ball hoggers~ (I think I found my next topic on Medium XD).

    It’s awesome that you have role models to look up to. I’ve seen people coming from non-technical backgrounds who picked up any specific fields in tech after putting their hearts out to learn the methodologies. I think a big step forward would be having everyone practice inclusion.

    Keep on working hard, Pauline. I am proud of you! You do a great job with encouraging others to do their best rather than putting anyone down. 🙂

  5. I love seeing other women in tech being featured or being in the spotlight and especially when they answer questions that continue to inspire other women!

    I also think it’s important that young girls get the support they deserve. They need to be encouraged from a young age, because for years, young girls have been discouraged from doing anything “smart” so technology does not appeal to them. 😞 I love when meetups and initiatives come together to make a difference in the world of tech. It’s also wonderful when it’s not just women supporting women, but men coming into the mix as well.

    One of my biggest role models is Una Kravets – she makes web development fun, and she continues to do talks and write blog posts about what she has learned. Many women are dominating the tech space, like Rachel Andrew, Ana Tudor, Jenn Schiffer and Ire Aderinokun, to name a few. 😄 And of course I love bringing the focus to some of the women in my Hey Girlfriend series! Most of those people are my inspiration and I believe they will continue to inspire other women around them.

  6. This is such a cool project, Pauline. I think it’s really important to get more people into STEM careers. In my sixth form there was only one person who did science and five who did maths. And that’s only by A Level stage. I wasn’t one of those people, but it was mainly because I had no idea what careers those subjects led to. People definitely need to be given more info!

    It’s definitely important to have role models. You’re so lucky to be surrounded by so many inspirational people, and they’re lucky to be around you too!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.