Tech4Girls workshops reveal new career paths and opportunities
Updated: Feb 2
At the end of October 2021, GSMA, ITU, EQUALS and Verizon hosted a Tech4Girls virtual workshop as part of EQUALS Her Digital Skills, an initiative which aims to provide free gender transformative digital skills training and e-mentoring opportunities to 1 million women and girls by 2026. One of the participants, Penina Randu, and volunteer Gill Petty, had the chance to speak with each other and find out what they thought of the Tech4Girls experience, gain some advice and chat about their plans for the future.
Penina: Gill, please can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Gill: I’m Gill Petty and I work at Verizon Business as a client manager in the technology sales area. I work with many large organisations helping them build the technology to deliver better experiences in our evolving world. In addition to my official role in technology sales I am also the Culture Co-Chair for the Women's Association of Verizon Employees, which is great, and through that have had the opportunity to work with GSMA, EQUALS and Tech4Girls. I have a degree in Equine Science and in my spare time I work closely with a charity that provides access to horse riding to people with disabilities. What drives me is that I am passionate about people having the best opportunities in life and helping other people reach their goals.
Penina: Did you know what you wanted to do in the future when you were in school?
Gill: When I was at school, I wanted to be a vet, horse physiotherapist, or professional rider. My career advisor asked me to do a survey and it came out saying that I should be a hairdresser. I’m not very good at doing my own hair so I decided that wouldn’t be a good path for me.
I completed my A levels and then went on to university. I really loved university and I thought that I was going to work with horses and then when I graduated, I was looking at jobs. I did a lot of riding and coaching and have done that alongside my career.
"It’s important to learn along the way, especially in the technology industry as things are constantly changing."
I began my career as a data analyst in a small company, gradually progressing to taking on more responsibility and expanded my tech knowledge on the job. As you can see mine is not a typical route that a lot of people will take, but the key to this is that there are so many avenues open to you to get into the career that you want to be in. It’s important to learn along the way, especially in the technology industry as things are constantly changing. So don’t be afraid to try out a more technical role, as you may be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Penina: What motivated you to participate in the Tech4Girls workshop?
Gill: Gender parity in all sectors is a challenge, especially when it comes to more senior roles. Women have a different perspective, a different drive, and different experiences to bring into the workplace and we want to embrace more of that. When one of my colleagues suggested we take part in the Tech4Girls workshop I jumped at the chance. We know that the gender gap is reducing and we're all striving to help other girls and women become successful in technology, and the Tech4Girls Workshop was a brilliant opportunity for me to align my values with an event where I could help others right at the start of their journey.
Gill: Did you learn some new tech concepts during the workshop?
Penina: I was introduced to mobile applications and AI. I didn’t know that you could do it that easily using the Thunkable app. I also learned about online safety and that you have rights when you are online. With Thunkable, it is easy to create an app that can help you or others, not too much burden, it’s understandable and straightforward.
"I really enjoyed when I created the app and it worked.... what I had created had come to life. It was a real achievement."
Penina: What did you enjoy most during the workshop?
Gill: The thing that I loved about the workshops was how enthusiastic the people were. They really did want to learn, which was brilliant. It was fantastic to see women wanting to get involved in technology and applying themselves and learning (for their futures). It was really the enthusiasm that I enjoyed the most. I hope they left the class thinking more clearly about the possibilities open to them in this area and understand that a career in IT is very much achievable for them all.
Gill: What about you, Penina? What did you enjoy most?
Penina: In the beginning, some role models that are in tech spoke. I learned a lot. That you shouldn’t give up even if something is hard or there are some difficulties on the way. One of the speakers said that she was from Kenya, and she really inspired me.
I really enjoyed when I created the app and it worked. I was really happy because it wasn’t too difficult for me. I was pleased when I saw that it was working and that what I had created had come to life. It was a real achievement.
Gill: How will you build on this tech skillset?
Penina: Now that I have been exposed to this workshop, I want to learn more about how to build mobile apps. I hope we can have more workshops on fintech. I would really appreciate being invited into some workshops on the ground.
Gill: What goals and dreams do you have for the future?
Penina: I am really interested in the fin tech industry. Maybe in five years’ time I want to be, let’s say a manager or something. It is just something that I really want to develop as I move on.
Gill: Any there any female role models you admire?
Penina: I really admire my sister; she is an aeronautical engineer. She didn’t want to do a business course even though she got an offer, she wanted to do an engineering course. She was enthusiastic about it, and she really worked hard. She had a passion.
Penina: Do you have any advice to encourage other girls and women to explore tech?
Gill: Technology spans every industry. It plays a part in most of the things we do. Technology is so vast, it exists in cooking, cycling, travel, fashion…. There is a need for people in tech in all of these places. There are a lot of opportunities for women to make an impact in areas that they enjoy. I’d encourage girls and women to get involved in the Tech4Girls workshop and programs as they are a brilliant way to explore opportunities, get the right support, mentoring and learning.
Gill: Would you like to add anything else?
Penina: I appreciate the partners that made this workshop available for us and appreciate the opportunity. It was really beneficial for me. I would love it if you can bring more workshops - more girls need this and would enjoy it.
For more information on the Tech4Girls initiative and for the list of workshops and mentoring programmes visit: https://www.equalsintech.org/tech4girls