Girls in Technology is a community-based initiative to help increase schoolgirls’ participation in emerging Internet technology careers. The pilot project, lead by the Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter and supported by Beyond the Net Funding Programme, will provide grade 9 girls with coding lessons and extracurricular activities to help them select ICT subjects at grade 10. Niranjan Meegammana, project leader and director of the Shilpa Sayura Foundation, explains how this initiative will contribute to gender equality in STEM education and help the young women reach for the stars.
Internet Society: What motivated the Chapter to take this initiative?
Niranjan Meegammana: Sri Lanka is fast becoming a hub for technology and innovation, offering a wide range of careers in technology fields. However, girls pursuing a career in technology still remain a limited number. Girls are representing 50.28% of school population, but only 20% are actually studying ICT. The gender gap keeps on growing and generating a labor surplus. The root cause of this problem is the scarcity of opportunities for girls and teachers in the Internet sector.
Which innovative solutions will the project attempt to solve this problem?
Girls in Technology is implemented by Sri Lanka Chapter with the partnership of Shilpa Sayura Foundation and Computer Society of Sri Lanka and aims to involve many stakeholders. The project will train 800 teenage girls in coding and IoT (Internet of Things), 80 ICT teachers and 40 university students in 40 different communities using embedded devices and electronics. We are going to provide IoT kits, conduct local workshops and engage girls in after school activities. University students and teachers will assist students to create innovative solutions. The students will attend schools exhibition and take part in a competition. The innovative aspect of the program will be the creation of an extracurricular Coding Club to improve creative thinking through the Internet and STEM educational resources.
How will this project be a great opportunity for Sri Lankan schoolgirls?
This project’s aim is to create a community platform to address the gender gap issue. We are going to develop innovative strategies for technology education and try to deal with the problem of girls not selecting ICT as a subject. We are going to identify challenges, barriers and best practices to replicate this project at a national level. This project is a great opportunity to advocate gender gap in technology sector and influence policy about gender equality education. We hope this project will make the educational system grow so that young girls will finally have a voice and challenge themselves to be part of the future society.
How will the project contribute to the Internet Society’s mission?
Our project model is aligned with the Internet Society mission of supporting gender equality and ITC education. Girls in Technology will use open standards and the power of the Internet to develop quality education to enrich teenage girls lives. We are going to create an open community to motivate them to select ICT at grade 10. Globally speaking, our project will also contribute to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDG4 and SDG5.
How can people engage with your Chapter and learn more about the project?