October 21, 2021

Caribbean girls ‘hacking’ for a safer future

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 PR, Over 800 girls across five Caribbean countries: Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines, will come together for an immersive experience in technology in celebration of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Girls in ICT Day, on Thursday.

Following the ground-breaking first Girls in ICT Day Caribbean Hackathon in 2017, woman-led SheLeadsIT and Change Makers Development Ltd. will stage the 2nd edition, under the theme #SafeGirlsSafeFuture.

The hackathon is a technology for good initiative which provides high school and tertiary level students with an interactive and hands-on experience in the use of digital skills to solve social challenges. A day-long immersion in ICTs, the hackathon will give the girls and young women, an opportunity to envision themselves, not only as users of technology, but creators.

Here in Barbados over 60 students from participating institutions across the island, including Christ Church Foundation School, Lester Vaughan Secondary School, Queen’s College, Graydon Sealy Secondary School, Harrison College, Springer Memorial, The St Michael School, The Lodge School, the University of the West Indies and Barbados Community College will come together at the UWI’s Cave Hill School of Business to vie for prizes.

Just before the official start of the hackathon on Thursday morning at the Cave Hill School of Business, the girls will receive inspiring words from Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Development, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, and Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, both of whom are featured speakers.

Recognising the need for a technologically savvy, gender balanced workforce, the event is supported by several private and public sector entities.

“To produce a versatile Caribbean workforce capable of navigating the on-going digital revolution we must get more women involved. In the next 10 years, 80 per cent of jobs will require a blend of STEM. We believe it’s critical to engage women earlier in the pipeline to bridge the digital gender divide,” said Bridget Lewis, Co-Founder of SheLeadsIT.

This year, with an increased focus on upskilling both the ‘hacker’ girls and the observers, a series of pre-event webinars are taking place, which focus on the various ICT activities the girls will be participating in during the hackathon.

“We are thrilled to have Google as our regional technical partner facilitating a number of our training webinars and providing mentorship support. In collaboration with local partners iCreate and GeoTech Vision we will be covering an exciting range of topics including, fundamentals of filmmaking, design thinking, web and mobile app development, geo-spatial (drone) technology, podcasting, gaming and animation” said Nicole Pitter Patterson, Co-Founder of SheLeadsIT.

The hackathon is one of thousands of events happening worldwide in celebration of Girls in ICT Day, which aims to create a global environment that encourages, educates and empowers girls to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and ultimately launch their careers in ICT. It is fitting that the event has been designated an official conference event for the UWI Mona, Faculty of Science and Technology 11th Conference on April 25 to 27.

“With this exciting hands-on event, where several local, regional and international role model tech speakers will give inspirational messages of support via video stream, we hope to inspire the girls with the confidence to chart their own course in a more dynamic and gender balanced technology sector,” said Samantha Chantrelle, Managing Director of Change Makers.

The speaker presentations and the day’s happenings will be live-streamed at http://www.itu.int/girlsinict.

With its target group of 15-22 year-olds, the Girls in ICT Day Caribbean Hackathon is focused on ensuring that Caribbean girls and young women will be ready for a career in ICT long before they get to an office. (PR)

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