Canterbury schoolgirls 'shadow' female tech and engineering experts

One of the many mentors, Amber Johnson shows Canterbury schoolgirls what her job as part of the Ara IT department entails.
SUPPLIED/ARA

One of the many mentors, Amber Johnson shows Canterbury schoolgirls what her job as part of the Ara IT department entails.

A well-paid, interesting and rewarding job may sound like the dream to most, but in technology and engineering fields, women are still the minority.

Less than a third of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) roles are held by women in New Zealand, despite the increasing demand in the fast growing industries.

A nationwide initiative connecting female secondary students with women working in technology and engineering sectors is aiming to get young females into these lucrative fields.

Fulton Hogan sustainability engineer Sophie Kennedy speaks to female secondary students at Ara Institute of Canterbury's ...
SUPPLIED/ARA

Fulton Hogan sustainability engineer Sophie Kennedy speaks to female secondary students at Ara Institute of Canterbury's annual Shadowtech day.

Female innovators, engineers and tech-savvy businesswomen took 100 schoolgirls from 18 different Canterbury schools under their wing as part of the annual Shadowtech event at Ara Institute of Canterbury on Thursday.

"Those boys they play with that they think are real idiots – they run companies and get better jobs than them," said Miranda Satterthwaite, Ara STEM coordinator.

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Ara STEM coordinator Miranda Satterthwaite says it's important to get girls interested in technology and engineering early.
MONIQUE STEELE/FAIRFAX NZ

Ara STEM coordinator Miranda Satterthwaite says it's important to get girls interested in technology and engineering early.

Started in 2014 under the name Shadow IT, Shadowtech aims to increase the number of females who choose STEM-related subjects at a secondary and tertiary level and to ultimately choose a career in tech.

"ICT, data, programming, web development, robotics, mechatronics, sensing tech and satellites, they are all going to be massive industries here," Satterthwaite said.

"Every year there are new jobs that didn't exist the year before."

Darfield High School student Sarah Kellock, 15, wants to be a game developer.
MONIQUE STEELE/FAIRFAX NZ

Darfield High School student Sarah Kellock, 15, wants to be a game developer.

Female speakers in the industry shared their stories with the students, advising them to stick with mathematics, sciences and digital technologies subjects through school. Speakers included 17-year-old Villa Maria College student and Digital Confectioners game developer Romy Gellen, Fulton Hogan sustainability engineer Sophie Kennedy and IT services firm Intergen practice manager Kate Clode.

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Year 11 Darfield High School student Sarah Kellock, 15, dreams of being a game developer.

"I like IT," she said.

Ara Institute of Canterbury's annual Shadowtech day connects young female students with women in the technology and IT ...
MONIQUE STEELE/FAIRFAX NZ

Ara Institute of Canterbury's annual Shadowtech day connects young female students with women in the technology and IT sector.

"[A programme like this] is a good way to introduce us to what we can do instead of saying it's mainly a boy job."

Year 10 Riccarton High School student Jasmine White, 15, said technology and IT was a field full of opportunities and the Shadowtech event was more than just a day-off.

"It's seeing what the mentors are doing in their environments," she said.

Riccarton High School student Jasmine White, 15, said the Shadowtech day was a chance to have a glimpse into STEM fields.
MONIQUE STEELE/FAIRFAX NZ

Riccarton High School student Jasmine White, 15, said the Shadowtech day was a chance to have a glimpse into STEM fields.

"I'm hoping for new experiences and to see where they can lead to and how we can get into these fields."

Both students were paired with mentors from e-commerce software seller SLI Systems for the day.

 - Stuff

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