More than 600 secondary school girls spent a day shadowing tech experts at organisations across the country as part of ShadowTech Day, which ran from 12 – 14 September.
For one day, girls in years 9-11 got to experience what working in the tech sector is like, encouraging them onto education pathways that lead into tech sector roles.
ShadowTech Day, delivered by TechWomen and supported by NZTech, saw nearly 50 organisations in Hamilton, Cambridge, Wellington, Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland take part in the initiative.
Students were paired with a local tech organisation and were taken through a “day in the life” experience that saw them sitting in on meetings, getting hands on with cool tech, and seeing what a typical day is like in the tech industry.
TechWomen Executive Director Yvonne Gill said, “ShadowTech Day is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience the wide range of career opportunities available to them in the tech sector”.
“Half of the New Zealand population is female, but a recent NZTech survey (Digital Skills Aotearoa: Edition 3) found that women make up only 29 per cent of the country’s digital IT workforce. This diversity challenge begins in education, with females making up only 40 per cent of NCEA technology students and 24 per cent of IT graduates. Programmes like this help break down barriers and myths that girls have, that tech is boring and for boys,” says Yvonne.
Feedback from students and teachers so far has been insightful and helpful for planning next year’s programme.
“It was amazing to learn how welcoming a place a job in tech is and how people from so many different diverse backgrounds can work there.”
“It was really helpful learning about where you would start when working in the tech industry and the different things you can go into from there. I also enjoyed learning about imposter syndrome and cyber attacks/hacking.”
“Getting to see an actual workplace in person gives you a better perspective of how a day in the life is, and seeing all the facilities available.”
“The whole thing was mind provoking, exciting, and a new experience. Thank you so much for the opportunity and encouraging more women into the tech business.”
“It was a great day for our learners, the honest conversations the speakers had with the students gave them a lot of insight into possible future careers as well as general career advice.” Shay Cowley, Te Kauwhata College.
“One of the most significant highlights for me was the opportunity to meet a diverse group of women within the company, each sharing their unique roles and responsibilities. The knowledge gained was invaluable. I wholeheartedly recommend this day to both students and staff, and I’m enthusiastic about encouraging more girls to attend next year.” Leesa Lawgate, Botany Downs Secondary College.
“As an overall experience, it was awesome! I was not expecting to have one woman in tech to each student. That blew me away. So it was great how the girls got to hear of the many different roles in IT and the varied pathways people have taken to get there. They had interactive time with the adults mentoring – that was awesome and a load of fun.” Ginni Orr, Avonside Girls High School.
Organisations also gained a lot of value from the experience. Lavinia Raj from Tuatahi First Fibre said, “It was great to be able to give back to the community and interesting to learn the range of subjects kids get to take at school these days. Our highlight was being able to inspire the next generation of tech leaders. It was awesome to see such an engaged bunch of young ladies.”
Tech is the fastest-growing industry in New Zealand and offers above-average salaries. Technology is also helping to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. From AI to healthtech, from SaaS to space, New Zealand is building world-class tech that’s good for business, good for people, and good for the planet, and we need a more diverse workforce to help the industry thrive.
“We’d like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, Deloitte, Westpac, nuimarkets, WellingtonNZ, Tuatahi First Fibre, Verizon Connect, Ministry of Education and Tech Step for supporting ShadowTech Day 2023 and helping inspire girls into tech careers. Without their support we couldn’t make this important initiative happen. With additional sponsorship and resources we hope to bring ShadowTech Day to more locations next year.”
ShadowTech Day 2023 video – view here
ShadowTech Day 2023 in the media:
Waikato Times, 13 September: https://www.waikatotimes.co.nz/a/nz-news/350071260/hands-plan-tip-tech-gender-imbalance