Although the tech space is booming and has been booming since a while now, the number of women with tech careers as compared to men is just 18-20%. Not just for India, this holds true all across the world as well. One tends to wonder why? Is it that women would be any inferior in this field? Or is it just that many don’t even know that they have an aptitude towards it? Or what is it about?.
I attended Girls in Tech by PayPal in Chennai. PayPal’s belief in diversity led them to ideate about 4 years back as to how they can entice women into the field of tech. This led them to devise Girls In Tech which is a program where girls at a very young age group of 8-14 are exposed to tech. This is the age when girls form their dreams about the future and PayPal decided to grab a bit of their mindspace, so they know they can dream in this direction too. It’s relatively easy to understand what a doctor does or what a pilot does but when we have to imagine what a tech person does, a lot of us are clueless so obviously we cannot blame kids for not dreaming in that direction. When you have not tasted something, how can you crave it?
About Girls In Tech
Girls in Tech gives young girls a hands-on experience and understanding of technology at an early-stage. This is for girls in the age-group of 8-14 years. PayPal has been conducting these workshops since 2015. At these workshops, girls are exposed to tech in a very non-invasive and engaging manner. The practical aspect of this workshop helps the girls to imbibe the curriculum naturally. I was amazed at the way the workshop was structured. They exposed the girls to a visual programming software called Scratch, where each day they were given a task. Completing the task led them to learning the software. For girls who were in the advanced batches, they taught application softwares. The enthusiasm was amazing and the girls were truly brilliant.
PayPal’s objective is to expose girls to tech and understand their aptitude. What they have noticed is that several girls continue to progress with learning these softwares and come back year after year while others realize it’s not their game.
Shadowing an Engineer
It was amazing to see the inquisitiveness of the girls. One section of the workshop included shadowing an engineer at PayPal and understand what their day feels like. The questions that these future techies had were amazing. From understanding the role of the engineer to knowing what PayPal is about, they wanted to know it all.
#PayPalGirlsInTech started in India at the Chennai tech centre in 2015, the success of the program also led to its expansion in PayPal’s Bangalore tech centre. Till date 100 girls have participated in the program. The participants are primarily children of PayPal employees. On public demand of the employees, this program was also extended to the boys through Kids In Tech.
The Fun Element
To keep the program light and the participants interested, second half of the day has some interesting activities like practical science experiments, dance sessions, robotics, craft and so on. The girls were bubbling with excitement and proudly showed me all that they had being doing from making UV pens to origami butterflies. Their enthusiasm along with that of the organizing team was contagious.
PayPal’s commitment to diversity helped in devising this amazing program which will serve the long term need to entice women into the tech force. The practical method of conducting the workshop will ensure the long-term efficacy of the program. Good wishes to all the participants of #PayPalGirlsinTech #OnTheRoadtoSTEM