welcome mentors to the 2017 Search for the next tech girl superhero competition

We at the Tech Girls Movement are excited for you to join us in our fourth season of the Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero!

We started our competition in 2014 with just 18 girls participating. We grew to 132 girls in 2015 and just over 500 in 2016. We now have nearly 1000 girls registered for 2017!  We launched at Google HQ in Sydney in 2016 and 2017, and finalists and winning teams from the previous year pitched their apps to our industry audience. In 2016 we took our National Winning Secondary team Pawsout to San Francisco to pitch as part of the Technovation World Challenge.

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. 

There are some key elements of the program that have helped us grow more than 200 % each year. Above all, matching teams with real life female mentors has been life changing for some of our teams. Most recently, our Vocabulary Voyagers team presented at the Avanade 2017 Cocktail party for International Womens Day in Sydney, encouraged by their long time coach who works for the company. The mentor for Reading Republic recently shared the stage with her team at Google HQ in Sydney in front of 150 industry people talking about what she gained from the program. We are excited to see the relationships you build with your team in 2017 grow. 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.