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200 schoolgirls learn about ICT from 40 city companies

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News from ShadowTech
Two hundred secondary school girls today gathered at Te Auaha New Zealand Institute of Creativity in Wellington to experience ICT for the day as part of ShadowTech. The Wellington ShadowTech is the first in a nationwide series of technology-focused events up and down the country.

ShadowTech’s Executive Director Edwina Mistry addressed the girls at Wellington’s ShadowTech event.

“600 girls are participating in 6 cities with over 300 mentors contributing to the day from 100+ organisations. It is great to see the number of participants grow each year from when ShadowTech which first started in South Auckland in 2014 when there were 42 girls and 10 organisations with 20 mentors. We are certain that opportunities like this make a difference in addressing the current gender imbalance in ICT,” said Edwina Mistry.

Around 40 Wellington companies are hosting the girls, who are from 17 secondary schools, for a day as they gain first-hand experience of ICT in its various applications. The girls started the day at Te Auaha listening to inspiring speakers about the opportunities in the technology sector and the wide variety of roles available to them from banking to game design to power generation and more.

ShadowTech is an NZTech initiative, supported by the Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic, which encourages girls to think about study options and a career in ICT, and to explore the incredible opportunities and different contexts and applications of ICT in the workplace.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran addressed the girls. Minister Curran said New Zealand’s tech sector needs more young women to help break down stereotypes and redress gender imbalance in the industry.

“I want young girls to see there’s a future for them in tech and I hope ShadowTech Day encourages and inspires them to study and work in this field,” Clare Curran said. “The sector employs more than 120,000 people, but only 23 percent are women. I want that to change. It needs to be much higher.”

Chris Gosling Chief Executive WelTec and Whitireia noted that polytechnics are part of the solution to the IT skills shortage being experienced by many companies.

“Creative Tech, ICT and Engineering Tech companies need skilled employees. WelTec and Whitireia are ideally placed to meet this demand. Wellington is a natural centre for the Creative Tech and IT sectors and there are many opportunities for young people to engage with industry.”

Game Designer and academic Dr Hazel Bradshaw talked about her experiences in the gaming sector and her entry to ICT. With an initial Degree in Fine Art, Hazel entered the tech sector later in her career. Addressing the 200-strong audience Hazel said, “I want to encourage each one of you to pursue your goals. Women are underrepresented in STEM, but there are so many opportunities available to you.”

The day concluded this afternoon at Te Auaha New Zealand Institute of Creativity, where the girls heard about study options in IT and creative technologies, and met academics teaching in these fields.