17 girls in years eight – 10 have come together these school holidays to fuel their passion for maths and science, and discover how rewarding technology and engineering careers can be.
Held over three days, the inaugural Canberra IBM Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering (EXITE) Camp saw the girls participate in a variety of hands-on activities at the IBM office and the Australian National University (ANU).
Research has shown that 75 per cent of future jobs will require STEM skills, yet only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women. The Camp aims to encourage young women to take up science and maths classes at school, and start thinking about the diverse career prospects in the field.
“This Camp has been running in other states across Australia since 2001, so we thought it was about time it came to Canberra! IBM is already doing a lot to engage young female professionals in STEM, but we needed to reach out to the younger generations, and this was a great way to do it” said IBM EXITE Camp organiser, Sarra.
“Initially, IT was a female-dominated field – the first computer programmers were women! We need to break the current mindset that exists.”
Dean of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, Professor Elanor Huntington agrees.
“With roughly 15 per cent of engineers and computing professionals in Australia being women, initiatives like the IBM EXITE Camp demonstrate how diverse and rewarding a career in STEM can be, and provide young women with a real opportunity to make an impact to the world around us.”
The girls have explored human-centred computing using eye tracking technology, used artificial intelligence to build Angry Bird agents and participated in career mentoring sessions with successful young women working in technology and engineering.
For 14 year old Khadeja, the Camp provided the opportunity to learn more about careers in engineering and computing.
“I registered because I’ve always been interested to learn what engineering and computer science is about, so this camp provided an opportunity to do that! The camp has definitely sparked my interest in engineering and computing, I have found learning about artificial intelligence particularly interesting.”
15 year old Laura agrees.
“The camp has confirmed that I want to pursue a career in IT.”
The ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a variety of events for high school students, including GET Set - Girls in Engineering and Technology Program and Girls in ICT Day.
If you are interested in participating in these events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign-up to the College of Engineering and Computer Science newsletter.