Published: 11th June 2017
The Girls-in-Tech programme aims to fix the gender problem in the tech world
PayPal’s Girls in Tech programme aims to make technology cool for girls and bridge the gender gap
Girls in Tech, PayPal’s initiative to draw more young girls towards technology, launched the third edition of the two-week workshop last month. The initiative, which aims to increase gender diversity within the tech world, introduces girls (ages 8 to 14) to the basics of programming and promotes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, a 47% gender gap was identified in STEM subjects in 2016.
"Very few girls lean towards STEM-based disciplines which make the funnel itself small, meaning that fewer girls trickle down into the workforce. So this is an attempt to enrich the ecosystem itself by making technology cool for girls," explains Guru Bhat, Head of Engineering at PayPal. Admitting that there are very few role models for girls to look up to in the industry, he believes that fostering interest could do wonders for gender diversity in the technological world. "Today, no matter what we do, technology touches our lives. Understanding it will undoubtedly aid and abet success," he adds.
Coding is fun! Last year, I got to create my own app and this time, we're designing a website.
Jessica Jacob, Student
For eleven-year-old Jessica Jacob, the programme is a much welcomed break from school. "Coding is fun! Last year, I got to create my own app and this time, we're designing a website," she gushes. Aside from learning important skills like art, music and self-defense, the young girls are taught a carefully designed curriculum which includes simple programming systems like Scratch, created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Fourteen-year-old Sahana Sarathy, has been a part of the programme since its inception in 2015. Introduced to it by her father, she was delighted to find that subjects like technology did not always have to be boring. "I used to think that this kind of job meant working all the time and going home late. But I actually learn something new every day," she explains. In fact, she hopes that her school will take a page out of their book and make day-to-day learning just as fun.
The important thing is to listen to what children have to say. When they are given a space to create new things on their own and by their choice, it empowers them.
Deepa Vijayaraghavan, Head of Unity at PayPal
"The important thing is to listen to what children have to say. When they are given a space to create new things on their own and by their choice, it empowers them," finds Deepa Vijayaraghavan, the company's Head of Unity, who has worked closely with the girls. "All it takes is a true understanding of what can be done using technology and that really changes their outlook," she opines.