Since it’s been two years since we last did a survey, we decided it was, once again, time to take stock of how our program is impacting our girls. Since we’ve worked with more new – as well as returning – girls, and with all the media attention being paid to women in tech, we wanted to see what impact, if any, that discussion has had on our girls. We also wanted to get their feedback on the best ways to continue to grow our program. The results do not surprise us, of course, partially because we would not see (a) girls repeatedly attending our events, (b) growth in the number of TechShopz that are offered, as well as their waiting lists, and c) the increasing interest we are seeing from other parts of the country if girls weren’t having positive experiences.
First, we surveyed 100 girls who have been through our program. This includes not only those who have been through a TechGirlz run Techshopz, but also those who have been through workshops which have been run by partners, companies, schools and individuals.
Second, the study does include girls who have not been taking our TechShopz anymore due to their age. We haven’t separated these girls out of the totals for the moment, but what we’re seeing is significant. We are creating systems to follow our alum now that a growing number are entering college searches.
To begin, we asked the girls “What was your interest in tech after you went to a Techshopz?” 81% stated they were more interested in tech after they attended a TechShopz. This is an increase over our last survey.
In the same vein, we asked them after attending our Techshopz, “Are you more interested in a career in tech?” Almost 95% said yes, they did. Of those, 66% said they were very enthusiastic (the highest rating on our survey). We believe our approach of showcasing different types of technology taught by those either interested in tech or working in tech is key to this response. We try as much as possible to tie what the girls are learning to the different careers they could use the technology in. Making it real for the girls is a very important part of our methodology.
But we are only a piece of the puzzle. How are they learning about technology outside of our program? Schools are providing some tech related courses, 77% to be exact. But when questioned further about what those tech related classes were, 42% said these classes taught only basic (Microsoft office, typing) computer skills. But there’s hope: 50% said that they had access to web design classes and some programming classes. In the future, we will be asking how they like these classes.
Now, are the girls taking these classes?
The answer is yes, if the classes are offered, they are taking them.
When asked if TechGirlz inspired them to pursue in-school classes, the answer is yes. This is a point we will be watching closely as well as understanding if the girls like the web and programming classes offered at their schools. Our anecdotal evidence is that it is a no. Perhaps, the education system needs to look at not only offering more tech classes, but also look at what is motivating the girls to stay in the classes.
What’s going on beyond school?
The most important stat we found was the support of the girls’ parents. 90% of the girls surveyed, said their parents encouraged their continued interest and pursuit of tech. It is not surprising to us, since these parents are driving their girls to our Techshopz. We believe this may be one of the most important factors in determining whether a girl will continue in their love of technology. We will be conducting a new study to further understand the role of parents.
Almost 95% of the girls said they pursued learning about tech outside of school and TechGirlz. The majority did this through online research and figuring it out on their own. A smaller percentage furthered their knowledge through clubs or school events. This is another point we would like to study further. Why are more of them not involved in school clubs? Are they learning enough on their own? Understanding even more how these girls are motivated to learn tech, will help us further devise plans to keep their interest as they grow up.
The last question we asked was what their ideal future job would be. The answers are varied and goes to the heart of TechGirlz approach – technology is not just about coding. Software programming is an important of the technology career landscape, but it is not the only part. Just as the girls’ future imagined careers are varied, so are technology and its use in these careers. How many more girls can we engage in their pursuit of careers that are tech dependent by changing how we discuss how tech is used?
Our second survey clearly indicates that TechGirlz’ TechShopz and TechShopz in a Box™ are making a difference in how girls perceive technology and careers in technology. It is with continued support from companies, organizations and individuals that we can continue to positively impact girls and give them the tools and skills to pursue their passion for technology and to consider careers in technology.