Chicas en Tecnología (CET): The new generation of innovators
Chicas en Tecnología (CET)
Latin America and the Caribbean
Adolescents, Clubs, Coding, Digital literacy, E-learning, Networking, Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Teachers
Non-formal education and extracurricular contexts, Prizes, competitions and special events, Role models and mentoring, Scholarships and funding, Teacher training
Within the female student population in higher education globally, only around 30% choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields according to UNESCO’s global report Cracking the code.
Chicas en Tecnología (CET) reports that in Argentina today, only 33% of women are in STEM-related careers and just 16% are in those with a focus on programming. These differences are not natural, but cultural. One of the factors that influence young women’s decision to take up studies and careers in technology is their experiences in science and technology in and outside of school settings.
Sparking girls’ interest in STEM fields requires training spaces with scientific and technological content that enables them to prove their abilities. Three-quarters of (75%) adolescent girls having participated in CET programmes report in surveys that being “good at doing this” influenced their choice for a professional career in STEM.
Unfortunately, schools across Argentina are struggling to establish technology-supported pedagogy and to use technology effectively in the classroom. With the approval of the Knowledge Economy Act, it is even more important to generate and attract diverse and local talent into technological, scientific and productive spaces emerging in the country.
Through three main programmes and initiatives, Chicas en Tecnología encourages girls aged 12 to 17 to consider technology as an ally to advance their goals and those of their communities. Girls work on articulating concepts and methodologies in STEAM (STEM including arts/design), with a social impact and a gender approach.
The clubs are developed in educational institutions, both formal and non-formal education, across the countries led by teachers who are trained by CET and in partnership with provincial ministries of education. The initiative includes 14 meetings (face-to-face and through the CET e-learning platform) builds knowledge and entrepreneurial skills in five areas: problem identification, solution thinking, programming, prototyping and design, marketing and communication. When the club ends, the girls not only have a technological solution – a mobile application with social impact that they developed – but they have learned innovative skills in technology and leadership. The clubs’ motto is: Wherever you are, with your technology, change the world. From 2017 until June 2019, more than 80 clubs were implemented in 14 provinces, with 90 educators trained and 1,500 young women attendees who created 92 prototype apps.
Programming a Better World (PUMM)
PUMM is an intensive project-based programme that provides entrepreneurial skills, mentorship and exposure to technology companies. The participating girls design, develop and pitch a mobile application that helps to solve a problem in their community in a creative and concrete way. Between 2015 and June 2019, seven PUMMs were developed in Buenos Aires, in which 190 adolescent girls participated and 50 volunteer mentors guided them to create 64 prototype apps.
Launched in 2017, this programme enables graduates of CET Clubs and PUMM to enhance their projects and widen their professional path through networking and experience-sharing spaces. They meet tech entrepreneurs and are provided with scholarships, workshops, talks, trainings and activities that motivate them in their professional and academic paths. Two events within this programme are Girl Leaders in Technology, a full-day event where girls explore the tech world focusing on specific themes, and #ExperienceCET, an immersive new initiative where young women go through a professional experience related to science and technology within a company. From 2017 until June 2019, 900 girls became part of the community, 60 scholarships have been granted and 70 opportunities to participate in external events and activities were created by CET to enhance their skills in technology.
Since 2015 and until June 2019, more than 1,900 young women have benefited from CET programmes and initiatives (including Clubs, PUMM and CETCommunity). Girls were equipped with tech skills and had the opportunity to become creators of technology with social impact. Overall, 130 apps were created to help solve community problems.
More than 900 graduates are now part of the #CommunityCET. They continue developing ideas, participating in events, receiving scholarships and are aware of the opportunities they have to develop their academic and professional paths. More than 380 educators have acquired skills and experience developing educational projects within their schools involving programming, design and entrepreneurship with social impact and a gender perspective. Finally, more than 36,800 individuals have been sensitized and engaged on the gender gap in technology through talks, events and media campaigns.
Lucia Martin, a 2019 Graduate of PUMM and part of the CETCommunity, created the app “5ntar” and won a scholarship to continue her studies. She says: “Technology is gratifying as you can see what works and what doesn’t work. When you realize that you are creating the technology that you consume you start asking yourself about how you consume, what you consume and how you can create it. In that sense Chicas en Tecnología adds value, in addition to learning how to programme and visiting tech-companies, we ask ourselves who produces what we consume and if we are taken into account in that system.”
Establishing alliances and partners: Engaging schools and other non-formal educational spaces (such as Digital Points, etc.) for the clubs is most important for programme development. Once the selection criteria are shared with partners, they recommend schools, share available data and accompany us through the development of the project.
Before launching any programme: it is important to take stock of the technology available, then analyse its potential and take advantage of it.
Bottom-up validations of programmes and flexibility: By generating programmes that interact with the current curricula and existing programmes, it is possible to adapt to the implementation context, effectively execute activities and better support communities.
Importance of mentor involvement: Many mentors are entrepreneurs or employees of tech companies and their engagement enriches discussions around the programmes and initiatives.
Use of an e-learning platform: As a pilot test, the trainings for educators included an online section, which was appreciated by educators and had effective results. This is an efficient strategy to avoid dependency on schools contexts such as strikes that delay the school calendar, severe weather conditions, and other challenges.
Research: Collecting, systematising, analysing and communicating data enables strategic decision-making and innovative actions to facilitate access to STEM. Using pre/post surveys enables information that demonstrates changes in perceptions and skills, and the delivery of effective content.
Campaigns to highlight women’s profiles and position in mainstream media: Through annual campaign such as Argentine Women in STEAM, it is possible to showcase women around the country who are role models in STEAM careers.
Basco, A.I., Lavena, C, Chicas en Tecnología. 2019. Un potencial con barreras: La participación de las mujeres en el área de ciencia y tecnologia en Argentina. Washington D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank.
Chicas en Tecnología. 2018. Mujeres Programadoras. Chicas en Tecnología Website.
Chicas en Tecnología. 2016. Las Voces de las Protagonistas. Investigación Chicas en Tecnología. Buenos Aires: Chicas en Tecnología.
Congreso de la Nación Argentina. Ley 27.506 de Economía del Conocimiento. Knowledge Economy Act. Buenos Aires: Congreso de la Nación Argentina.
EQUALS Global Partnership. 2019. I’d blush if i could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education. Paris: UNESCO.
Frayssinet F. Entrepreneurs and beneficiaries of Chicas en Tecnología, an Argentine organisation that encourages the participation of teenage girls in the creation of programmes and digital applications. IPS News Net: 5 March 2019.
Oktubre FM. Las pibas que achican la brecha de género en ciencia y tecnología. Oktubre FM: 13 June 2019.
Perspectiva Sur. 2019. Ya se encuentra abierta la inscripción a Clubes de chicas en tecnología.
Perspectiva Sur: 13 May 2019.
UNESCO. 2017. Cracking the code: Girls' and women's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Paris: UNESCO.