Mentors are an integral component to the success of the Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero Competition. As our competition grows each year we need more mentors to contribute their time, knowledge and expertise to guide our Tech Girls to Superhero stardom.
In 2018 we had
The goal of the program is to provide a first hand experience in entrepreneurship, using technology to solve a problem in the local community. The goal is to build confidence and a strong sense of self-efficacy in the girls. In 2016 we had 5 states represented. In 2017 we will have all Australian States and Territories participating, and we have ~50 teams from New Zealand after launching there in March 2017.
We have had many successes: Our Vocabulary Voyagers teams reached the top 1% of entries in the Global Technovation Challenge in 2016 out of 1600 teams around the world. Our 2016 Messing with the Murray team on the NSW/VIC border went on after our competition to win the Lascelles Award for Innovative product (community) at the Mildura Innovation Awards. Our 2016 Deseyners team from Qld won the Inaugural Energy Innovation Challenge at the 2017 World Science Festival.
We need 250 mentors to match with our teams in 2017 (double the mentors in 2016); calculating your time at 12 hours mentoring in the program (1 hour per week) - that equals 3000 volunteer hours! We could not run the program without you.
Above all, matching teams with real life female mentors has been life changing for some of our teams. Here is how you can help your teams:
Program guidance – the 12 week program provides a structured way to consider technology development from conception, to research, to design, to build, to pitch. We do not expect mentors to be expert in all of these areas, instead we ask mentors to keep their team on track with deadlines and milestones, and to provide help in finding the information their team needs at any point in time.
It is not all about winning - we have found that even if the girls do not win, they see the real positive changes they could make with their solution, they make new friends, and they have some understanding of business and technology development. Many teams continue to build and improve their app after our 12-week program. Your role as a mentor is to be passionate about technology, to show the teams what you do in your job, and what possible career paths are out there.
Collaboration – Girls learn to work in teams toward a common goal. While this can be both frustrating and empowering, it results in a basis for life long learning about designing solutions using technology. As a mentor we ask you to encourage collaboration in the team and with you in your regular meet-ups. We will help you find creative ways to do this.
Community validation – Simply having an adult (you = their mentor) listen to their ideas gives the girls confidence. With you helping them to build a solution, the girls are empowered as they feel they are being taken seriously. Teams have the opportunity to pitch their app at one of our showcase events where they see that other adults value their ideas and solutions, and they meet other teams involved in the program to realise they are not alone in the work they are doing.
Entrepreneurship - The entrepreneurial part of the program is the key reason why this program is successful. We don't focus on coding per se, but use it as a tool to solve an important community problem. We find this is a particularly appealing element for girls. Show the team what excites you about what you do, and how you use your superpowers to make the world a better place.
Thank you for joining us on this journey in 2017. We are super excited to work with you.