Techno Girl is helping girls in South Africa access the education they need for successful careers. The initiative’s goal is to actively encourage girls to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields — also known as STEM fields. The initiative provides numerous programs to help participants reach their educational and career goals.

The program is geared towards girls in grades nine through 11, ages 15 to 18. It is part of the Girls and Boys Education Movement in South Africa and is sponsored by the country’s Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities. It is also supported by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as well as numerous other public and private sector partners.

South African students are notoriously disadvantaged in math and science. The proficiency of students in these subjects is very low compared to other countries. Furthermore, boys are traditionally much more involved in these areas of study. Girls are not encouraged to pursue STEM subjects, which ultimately impedes their long-term career opportunities. The program works to change this trend by providing girls with the resources to pursue a STEM career.

Techno Girl chooses participants from the most under-resourced schools in the country based on academic merit. Most participants, therefore, come from areas lacking educational and job opportunities to pursue their dreams. Techno Girl motivates these girls to continue to strive for the jobs they desire. The program improves the confidence of girls who would otherwise lack access to the resources they need to succeed in a STEM career.

The initiative offers opportunities for mentorship, shadowing and skills development in a variety of career paths. Many participants say job shadowing is an extremely beneficial opportunity for them, helping them prepare for jobs. Without shadowing, participants would have to seek out individuals employed in these fields first-hand to understand how they work.

Since it began in 2005, Techno Girl has helped more than 6,000 girls throughout South Africa. Many participants have gone on to receive scholarships for higher education as a result of the program. The initiative has seen tremendous results and has received widespread support. As it continues to grow, Techno Girl will provide unparalleled opportunities for girls interested in STEM careers in South Africa.

Lindsay Harris

Photo: Flickr