I recently presented at a youth marketing conference in Sydney on ‘Marketing to Kids, Tweens & Teens’ and i was lucky enough to sit next to Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen who is doing some awesome work encouraging young women here in Australia to get into IT and digital careers. She’s written a great book, ‘Tech girls are chic’ definitely worth reading.
Here’s a short interview with her:
I’m Dr Jenine (I have a PhD) and I’m an entrepreneur – well that’s what some people call me. I’m CEO of my own research consulting business Adroit Research which I just launched in the past 3 months, I lecture in IT to undergraduates at Griffith University, and I’m a book editor (Tech girls are chic!). Basically I’m a researcher interested in how people use technology, and how it can make our lives better.
Why did you start ‘Tech girls are chic’?
To raise awareness that Information Technology is a great career for girls. At the time I was running Technology Takes You Anywhere and volunteering at Go Girl, which are events for girls to learn about tech careers, and I wanted something the girls could take home at the end of the day to show their parents, teachers and friends. I also wanted to have something for girls that couldn’t make it to any events, I didn’t want them to miss out on learning about technology careers and how great they are. I love my job working in Information Technology. Every day is different; my work is interesting and challenging, I travel and get paid very well!
Why don’t you think young women in Australia have gone into IT/digital careers?
They don’t understand the awesome opportunities that working in technology careers have. That is not their fault, I find it hard to understand what people in IT do as it so varied. We need more role models to show us what they do in their jobs, and to share what they love and what challenges they face (this article agrees). One problem is that many girls particularly do not seem to make the connection between using technology and building technology. Think of all the technologies, websites, apps, devices etc. you use every single day, these are created by people in Information Technology. We need you to join us in creating the technology of the future! 🙂
Do you think women bring different thinking to the industry?
Yes. Diversity is important in many aspects of our lives. Think of how many diverse people use all of that technology that you use every day. It makes sense that those diverse people are represented in the development of technology. This doesn’t just apply to women, but people of all ages from all backgrounds including minorities and people with disabilities.
What’s happening right now in terms of getting young girls into IT/digital careers? Any big success stories you’ve seen?
I’m proud to say I’ve been behind a success story! Tech girls are chic is a book that I developed to show young girls what is an IT career all about, and to provide 16 different role models of chic women who work in the industry. The message is that we are just like you, we love hanging out with friends, travelling and reading books, we also happen to work in Information Technology. We love our jobs, and we want you to see what we do and we also want to show that we have other skills – story writing. Each tech girl in the book wrote a short fun fiction story about technology.
In the past 5 years I’ve distributed nearly 20 000 books and I need more as people keep ordering them! So I’m in the process of looking for funding and sponsorship money so that I can produce the next version of the pink book. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact me. But how do I really know that the book has been successful? Well I recently met a girl called Anna who is studying IT at university because she read my book when she was in high school. It was so exciting to meet her and to hear that I had an impact on the career she has chosen. Gives me goosebumps! So I’m going to work on a crowdsourcing campaign to find out “where in the world is the pink book?“
What’s the future looking like for women in IT/digital careers?
I think is very positive and full of opportunities. We are using more technology all the time and have a greater reliance on it every single day. Therefore we need a highly expert workforce to continue to innovate into the future. How could you not want to be part of this fun, challenging, rewarding and exciting career, and why should the boys get all the good stuff?