GIRLsmarts is helping to bridge a gap. This gap exits between when girls are interested in technology, then step away from it due to stereotypes, missing role models, lack of encouragement or exposure to a technology based career.
Along with the University of British Columbia, some SAP Vancouver females leaders understood the link that in order to have female candidates to select from when hiring into SAP, girls had to get and stay interested in technology. A key factor to making this happen was knowing they had to capture that attention and foster it earlier than when girls got to high school or university. Girl’s interests had to be supported as early as elementary school to let them see the possibilities of technology in their careers.
On Feb 15 2014, GIRLsmarts launched in SAP Vancouver led by a core group of women – Stephanie Redivo (VBWN Steering Committee member), Darriel Dawne, Jennifer Waldern, Jennifer Coleman and Sarah Spratley. With over 1600 hours of skills based volunteering and 130+ SAP Vancouver volunteers working to build and test the program, the first GIRLsmarts workshop closed to rave reviews!
What is a GIRLsmarts workshop about?
The one day workshop is built for girls in grade 7 (10-13 yrs. old). The purpose of the day was to provide them with hands-on coaching through basic programming, music sound mixing, game design, and the basics of User Interface design. The finale to the day was by UBC engineer Amy Leson. She showcased her ‘soccer-playing robots’ to much fanfare by the girls and closed with her speech entitled ‘The Geek Life is the Good Life’. The hope is that young girls get to see that technology isn’t intimidating, as well as, de-bunk the stereotypes of tech people being either ‘gamers’ or locked in a room writing code.
GIRLsmarts is also only one point in a large 5 point program of finding, hiring and keeping female technology talent at SAP. Darriel Dawne mentioned that she is excited to see how ‘Teen Tech’ ideas, university alliances, HR & Recruiting approaches, as well as women in leadership and our communities have begun to take hold of the SAP culture.
The hopes of GIRLsmarts leader Stephanie Redivo is to have this workshop repeated multiple times in Vancouver in 2014. They are also in discussion with leaders in Montreal, Newtown Square, New York, Palo Alto, and Toronto to have workshops in their own communities. The big dream is to have SAP corporate to see and use this as a global opportunity and part of our culture at SAP to help build and staff our future.
Call to Action from the GIRLsmarts leaders Stephanie Redivo and Darriel Dawne:
Talk amongst your chapters to see if this something you can get involved with. Find a co-lead who is as passionate as you and get involved. “Skilled volunteering is such an opportunity to make a difference by showcasing your accomplishments within SAP.”
Call to Action from me – Hook up the TVs and satellites and PVRs, use the Ipads and technology around you. If you have a daughter, niece or Little Sister make sure that you don’t leave the technology to someone else in the house. ‘He knows how to do it better’ or ‘He’s the tech guy in our family’ are some of the ways females step aside from technology or let it intimidate us. Who could be watching and learning those lessons??
To the men that may read this blog, ask a daughter or niece to help when working on technology. It can’t hurt can it?
VBWN Chair 2014