Once again this year, Qim info renews its commitment to EPFL by participating in the Coding Club For Girls mentoring workshops for young girls between 11 and 16 years old. One of the objectives of this approach is to break down preconceived notions about IT and digital professions (to learn more, you can read our article here).
Claude, Marine, Mihaela, and Wioleta, four of our collaborators, volunteered to present their career paths and the reasons that led them to work in IT. Claude went to Fribourg last month to exchange with about fifteen young girls, and the three others are fine-tuning their coming talks. Let’s look at this unique experience where transferring skills and sharing experiences are the goal.
Why did you choose to participate at this event ?
Claude : because I meet few women in my profession! They often move towards jobs in design, but there are only a few in programming. However, I am convinced that anyone can find their way in IT, especially since combining family life and career is totally compatible.
Marine: even if things are going in the right direction, there are still very few women in IT and engineering. And yet, there are a multitude of possible academic and professional paths, just like in other fields! I want to show girls this diversity and help them see that there is something for everyone, regardless of your background. I also think the lack of gender equality in IT results from many societal and cultural factors with very little representation of female role models. Through my participation and the participation of other professionals, I hope that participants will see that IT can be very fulfilling.
Wioleta: when I was younger, I was in a student association where we organised similar events that helped me define my future professional projects. At that time, I was 10 years older than the other participants, and I regretted not having participated in these events earlier. So when I was offered the chance to participate in the Coding Club workshops, I immediately accepted! This time, it was my turn to help and advise young girls. If my experience can be helpful to others, that’s great!
How did your intervention goes ?
Claude : my talk went very well; the girls were very attentive. I didn’t see time pass and would have liked to have had more time to share with them. 30 minutes goes by fast!
Marine: very well! I spoke twice, during the morning and afternoon workshops, with about 15 girls each time. Both sessions went well, and the audience was very attentive and curious. They asked me a few questions about my hobbies, work, and even some computer vocabulary!
Wioleta: my speech went very well! At first, the girls were a little shy, but when I started asking them questions, they opened up, and the atmosphere became more relaxed. The workshop was great; the girls were attentive, and their ideas were very interesting.
What would you say to a young woman who is not sure she can/wants to work in this field ?
Claude : trust yourself and go for it! To all young women, let what you love guide you. IT is such a broad industry that even if you don’t like the job you’re starting, you’ll always find a way to move to another IT job you feel more comfortable in. Changing jobs isn’t a weakness but a real asset: Everything you have learned will never be lost and will always be useful! In short, dare to try, even if it’s just out of curiosity!
Marine: I would start by asking her about the reasons that make her doubt: Is it a preconception? The feeling of a lack of knowledge, skill, or legitimacy? After that, I’d recommend they meet and exchange with people from different backgrounds to discover jobs from a new angle, getting to know the pros and cons of each. And for those still trying to decide, if you are interested in IT, try it! Listen to your gut and go for it; you won’t regret it. This field can be so gratifying for women because the field of possibilities is vast!
Wioleta: get to know yourself and what you are interested in. Choose a job that makes you happy and isn’t boring. Don’t be afraid to learn and try, regardless of the outcome. If you are interested in computer science, understand that there are so many possibilities, jobs, and career paths you can take. Take the time to talk to people who do the work you are interested in and attend workshops, but the most important thing to do is believe in yourself!
And if you could, would you do it again ?
Claude : oh yes, it would be with great pleasure! 😊
Marine: yes, with great pleasure!
Wioleta: of course, with pleasure! I’d love to renew the experience.
The Coding Club for Girls 2023 session is just beginning, and we hope each participant can collect some useful information to build their professional project!