TechShopz Boost Girls’ Confidence In Technology

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TechGirlz was designed 8 years ago to help make a dent in the lack of women in the tech industry. With under 25% of the industry made up of females, but 57% of the workforce comprised of women, we didn’t understand why there was such a lack of women in the field.

We began by looking at surveys conducted by AAUW in 2000 and 2005. These surveys looked at why girls were not interested or participating in tech. We learned that at 9th grade, girls were self selecting out of careers in tech. We also learned many of the reasons girls were forming this opinion about technology.

Those answers formed the basis of why we chose to work with middle schoolers and how we deliver our services. We conducted our own focus groups to test some of our theories as we built our program.

We decided to have short surveys for the girls to take after each TechShop. We have been pretty consistent with giving these surveys to ensure what we are teaching resonates with the girls. The surveys are short and focus mainly on the content of the workshop. This helps us tweak our lesson plans and it also allows us to keep tabs if the girls are enjoying themselves. Our barometer of that mark is our favorite question, Would you bring a friend to a TechShop? We have seen a consistent 75% Yes to this question. This is like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

But we decided to do a longer survey to capture more information about the effect of our program. Techgirlz recently finished our 3rd biannual survey. The survey reached out to 1000 girls who had taken a TechGirlz workshop over the last 7 years, so we not only had middle schoolers answering, but our alum as well.

Our findings are not just about how the girls like our program, which is of course important, but also about their attitudes about technology after they have attended our TechShopz.

35% of the respondents had attended at least one TechShop, it was great to see so many of the girls attend more than one.

We wanted to understand how parents affected our girls interest in tech. We hypothesized that parents play an important role in girls interest in tech. We had many stories of girls reluctantly coming to a TechShop only to leave with a ton of enthusiasm. We get excited to hear those stories, but forget an important piece – the parent who thought enough to bring them. Not surprisingly, the 70% of the girls felt supported by their parents in their use of tech.

But what was motivating them to attend? We asked the girls what was being taught in their schools and what they wanted to learn.

The girls were allowed to have multiple answers to what was offered in their schools and what they wanted to take. As you can see, there is a strong interest in web design, computer programming and multimedia and not a matchup of what the girls want. How do we account for this mismatch? This is a question that needs to be further explored with girls and schools.

What you can also see is that many of the girls did not take a technology related class because it was not offered at their school or it did not fit into their schedule.

However, these girls are clearly motivated to continue their learning in tech. When asked what they have done after attending a TechShop, the girls answered with ideas such as working on websites, creating apps, using photo editors, and learning coding.

And over 70% of them responded they were more enthusiastic about learning tech on their own after attending a TechShop.

And what did our respondents do with their new found confidence? They created with technology apps, made websites, learned more on their own and designed games.

We are thrilled with the effect TechGirlz is having, but we know if, as a society, we are growing more women in tech, we need to support schools to provide more tech classes and we need to listen to the girls so the classes will be what the girls are interested in. The path to become a women in tech is long, but we can make the road smoother.

Thanks to Drexel’s Data Analytics Department at the Lebow College of Business for crunching the survey results and creating these graphs and visuals.