Go Girl – Go for IT! 2008

The ‘Go Girl – Go for IT!’ event was held at Deakin University’s Burwood campus on 28-29th October and saw over 1200 secondary school girls attend dozens of presentations by women in IT, who spoke of their career directions and aspirations.  Organised by Victorian Women in ICT, the event aims to attract female middle secondary students into a career in information and communications technology – and to explain some of the subject choices they need to make to get there.

Having participated in BarCampMelbourne and Software Freedom Day, I was motivated to assist with Go Girl – Go for IT! Both BarCamp and SFD engender (no pun intended) a strong sense of community, have a strong freedom ethos and a determination to break down barriers to participation – all things shared by GGGIT. While the workload was overwhelming at first, and the days themselves were both stressful and exciting it’s definitely something I’d jump at the chance to be involved with again.

As a learning opportunity the presentations offered a number of insights.

  • Know your audience: Some of the presenters (I won’t mention names) tried to be edgy or hip with their presentations, and used swear words and other shock tactics to engage the audience – even though there was little substance to their presentation.  There is an appropriate context for swearing  and presenting to 15, 16 and 17 year olds is not an appropriate context. Substance first, flashy stuff second.
  • Know your audience: Some of the better presenters were both interesting and interested – interesting to watch and genuinely interested in the aspirations and dreams of their audience. Passion is something that you can’t fake.
  • Know your audience: Some presenters were the total opposite of hip – and downright boring to watch. 15 year old girls are not business analysts or programmers – and a data flow diagram is not going to engage them.

Observations from the day included;

  • Similar to BarCampMelbourne, I noticed that the majority of presenters were Mac rather than PC based – and not just those who were heavily into graphic arts, animation or video. It appears there is definitely an increasing takeup of MacOS.
  • Girls from schools with a lower socio-economic background appeared to appreciate the day and the presenters more than private schools – it was interesting that I was not the only volunteer to make this observation. The only conclusion I can draw here is that the private schools are afforded more similar opportunities – therefore appreciate them less.
  • Many of the regional schools had to arrive late and leave early because of the distance they had to travel – however many of them did make the effort to come which was pleasing to see.

For me personally, the stand out presentations were;

  • Pia Waugh: Of Software Freedom Day International and One Laptop Per Child fame, Pia spoke on how a career in ICT can provide all the things you want from a job – money, travel, interesting work etc. She went one level higher however and showed how the work that you can do can change the world.
  • Rebecca Cannon: Spoke on the Artabase site, that intends to be the next Facebook-style collaborative social networking site for artists all over the world.
  • Kylie Robertson: Discussed her work with Ish Media. This presentation was a hoot, as it showcased the Girl Friday serial that is downloadable on to mobile phones – and pioneered the way in mobile content.

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