On 25 April 2019, RightsTechWomen celebrated the International Telecommunications Union’s Girls in ICT Day by collaborating with CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) to organize robotics and programming workshops for girls. The event took place at the CERN Globe of Science and Innovation from 9 am to 4 pm and attracted around 100 girl participants aged from 6 to 14.
The day started off with a presentation from RTW to girls and parents on its work and the current issues regarding women and girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). RTW drew awareness to the gender gap in those fields and that the number of jobs requiring technology skills is constantly growing. RTW also drew the girls’ and parents’ attention to the interesting opportunities that STEM jobs can offer.
The day continued with four workshops on robotics and computing. The workshops, led by CERN and RightsTech Women volunteers, familiarized the girls with Poppy Ergo Jr, a child-friendly robot designed for educational purposes as well as with what happens inside a computer. Girls used the program, SNAP, to command Poppy to do various tasks such as knocking things over, dancing, and throwing pieces of sugar. It was all fun and play but also an educational experience for everyone, including the coaches.
RightsTech Women and CERN staff volunteers trained coaches in advance of the event. By recruiting and training female coaches on robotics and programming, the shared goal was also to introduce the girl participants to positive female role models during the workshops.
RTW also prepared and distributed educational material informing girls about their human rights to equality, education, and to benefit from science. In so doing, RTW raised awareness among the girls and parents about the girls’ rights.
RTW was pleased to have taken part in this experience and to have partnered with CERN on this occasion. The event was a success and a lot of fun. Feedback received on the day was overall very positive.
We have to expose girls to science: books, exhibitions, and workshops. What you do is a great initiative! – A parent.
RTW was also happy to observe that many girls were already quite confident in their interactions with the robots, indicating that some progress in the right direction had already been achieved.
One of them said: J’adore l’informatique et ça me rend joyeuse. (I love computer science and it makes me happy.)
Another girl said, when asked why she participated: Pour découvrir robotique et mon talent. (To discover robotics and my talent.)
RightsTech Women was happy to see so many girls having a blast programming robots and learning computing and to see all the support they get from their parents. It was a great way to celebrate Girls In ICT Day.