Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Engaging all ICT talent
This morning I attended a session run by the European Centre for Women and Technology... The discussion was about using ICT as a tool for ensuring Europe's future as a leader, and also (in a later session from Millennia 2015) for empowering developing countries. (For explanation of pictures, see below :-))
Apparently Europe's heading towards a massive shortage of workers with skills in information and communication technologies (ICT). One way to address this shortage, it was suggested, is to mobilise women in ICT, tapping in to an underrepresented sector of the population.
The stats suggest that less than half of 15-18 yos (boys and girls) have decided what they want for a career: thus, if we want to encourage more young people, and specifically girls, to enter ICT, then we need to target this age (or younger)... Further stats indicate that kids of this age say they are not interested in SET careers... Of course not. Who could say that their child has been exposed to the massive diversity of careers available in science and ICT before they even hit puberty?
So the challenge is to expose kids, and especially girls, to the exciting breadth of careers in ICT. There's more to IT than Google. There's more to computing than being a system administrator. Bring on creative careers in IT. Who programs Disneyland's rollarcoasters or Vegas' light shows? Who works to create the robots and 3D technologies I blogged about yesterday? Which masterminds are making it possible to do all-new kinds of medicine and science? These jobs go beyond the traditional idea of what it means to be in IT.
One excellent initiative happening in the grid computing world (this is where the photos come in ;-)) is to encourage children to get involved early through Grids for Kids days (see the Recipe for a great Grids for Kids day at the EGEE Gender Action Plan website)...You can see articles on the days in iSGTW features here and here. Also check out the great games for teaching grids from TryScience.org (by IBM)