'Geek generosity' driving women towards a tech career

Streatham and Clapham High School says tech industry is committed to moving female recruitment forward

A nationwide wave of “geek generosity” is helping to encourage more girls into technology.

Gillian Cross, senior mistress, head of upper fifth at Streatham and Clapham High School in London, said she has been “astounded” by how quickly people in the technology industry have offered their support for the school’s upcoming Ada Lovelace Day event.

The school, part of the Girls' Day School Trust, will hold an IT event on 14 October to mark Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Students will be taken off timetable for the day to promote careers in IT.

Cross said: “I contacted Martha Lane Fox and she pinged back asking how she could help. I also asked Cristiana Camisotti of Silicon Milkroundabout and she introduced me to various people and within an hour they had all agreed to help.

“There was no status, no questions about fee. I was just amazed how generous everyone was.”

Cross added: “The people in this industry are totally committed to moving it forward. There is no sense of superiority or closed doors. I can’t think of another industry where people are so generous with their time. I haven’t found anything other than excitement for the event and its cause. There is a genuine sense of celebration.”

Anne-Marie Imafidon, head and founder of Stemettes, which is providing several coders for a hackathon at Streatham and Clapham High School’s event, agreed that there are many people in the technology industry who are willing to help.

For example, Stemettes is working on a mentoring project that will see female managers take young girls into their work environment over the summer. Forty students have signed up for the initiative, and businesswomen have been keen to help.

Imafidon said Stemettes works with several schools, but she prefers businesses to invite girls into their workplace. “They get to go to the offices, meet the women there, eat the food and get a real sense of what life would be like to work there,” she said.

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