TeenTech founder Maggie Philbin has spoken to the finalists of Network Rail’s Could IT Be You? competition to inspire them to pursue a tech-related career.
The competition is open to girls aged between 16 and 18, and asks them to explain how technology can improve their lives and make things better.
The winning girl gets her first-year university fees paid for by Network Rail. Three runners-up receive two weeks of paid work experience and mentoring with the Network Rail IT team.
Network Rail CIO Susan Cooklin organised for the 75 finalists to hear from the technology broadcaster and former Tomorrow's World presenter to help dispel the myths about working in IT.
Phibin previously teamed up with Network Rail in September 2014 to get behind the launch of the campaign.
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During the event, Philbin said the wide variety of roles and opportunies in IT are poorly understood by students, as well as parents and teachers.
"There's a real responsibility for employers to do as much as they can to clarify what's involved and help students understand how they very much belong in this world," she said.
"This great initiative from Network Rail is helping girls to see themselves in roles they may have previously discounted because they had a perception of rail as a male industry.
"It's not all hard hats and hi-vis jackets, but an industry that needs good thinkers, people who thrive on teamwork and will derive satisfaction from solving infrastructure problems of every kind. It's a great industry and one where women can really make their mark."
Cooklin added that there is a perceoption among young women that an IT career is all about writing code in basement offices, when the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
"The winners from last year’s competition all showed a creative mind for solving problems and good communications, and these are the skills that business leaders are after," she said.
“Technology plays an absolutely crucial role in moving 4.5 million people by rail in Britain, safely and reliably, every day. This competition is a great way to help young women realise what a career in IT is really about and the fantastic career opportunities that a company like Network Rail can offer."
In May 2014, Network Rail was crowned IT ambassador at the Real IT Awards, which were held by The Corporate IT Forum for its Could IT Be You? competition.