On Wednesday, ZeroLight welcomed over 50 girls from North East schools as part of their first Girls In Tech Event.
Working with the NE1Can initiative, which aims to educate young people on the career options open to them, ZeroLight also partnered with Scott Logic, Virgin Money and NE Youth to deliver a day packed full of technology to the schoolgirls.
With current statistics on female representation in the tech world rather bleak (currently only 17% of employees in the tech industry are female), it's an important long-term initiative for ZeroLight and targeting 11 - 14 year olds is the best way to ensure that girls are introduced to these careers early and develop an understanding of the important role they play in the future of the tech industry.
We started with day with an overview of the current picture with our Talent Development Manager Erin, who talked about the prevalence of technology in our world today and linked this with the abundance of tech jobs available, which will only increase as these girls progress through their school years. They talked about key female technologists over the years and their influence - women like Hedy Lamarr and Katherine G Johnson. Next up was ZeroLight's UI / UX Designer Vika Van Tuyl who talked about her work in user experience and showed how technical roles can involve huge amounts of creativity as well.
The girls then split into four groups - some headed up to the studio to speak to our Senior 3D Artist Julie, who showcased her environment art work whilst others experienced our VR demos - many girls using virtual reality for the first time and loving it.
Whilst this was happening in the studio we also had two career-based talks from Virgin Money and Scott Logic. Both talks had great messages about utilising all kinds of work experience and the benefit of making mistakes and learning from these to find your ideal job. They touched on the important point that not everyone knows exactly what they want to do and that career paths are rarely a straight line from A to B, so learning from experience is the best way to determine what you love to do.
After a break for the requisite ZeroLight pizza lunch and lots of selfies on our Terrace overlooking the Tyne Bridge, the girls were lucky enough to take part in a coding workshop delivered by NE Youth. They worked in small groups, coding and developing their own pedometers. It was a great session that certainly demonstrated how coding is a part of so many things that we use on a daily basis.
Initial feedback from the schools taking part has been great and many girls commented on how exciting working in technology would be for them. All in all, a brilliant start for this fantastic new initiative.