As the UN says, “women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential.” We believe it’s vital to be part of the movement that recognises this and seeks to help everyone reach their potential – particularly in education. That’s why we’re aligning with the goals of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with our February Hackathons with British Council.

Today, 11 February, is the 2020 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It comprises an “ambitious global outcome agenda” and has gained sponsorship from more than 65 countries and the approval of all the UN’s member states.

Currently, fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. The same proportion of female students choose STEM-related subjects in higher education. Across the board, women’s representation in ICT, natural science, mathematics and statistics, engineering, manufacturing and construction is lower than that of men.

Recently, we have partnered with British Council to train educators and support the creative use of innovative British technology in classrooms across the world. This is a timely initiative across February, to be inspired by the goals of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This month, we’re in Malawi, Tanzania, India and Spain running creative digital skills workshops with educators and students, giving teams the tools to run their own ‘Hackathons’. You can read more about the initiative here.

We’re proud to be sending a group of workshops leaders, two thirds of whom are women, to lead these workshops across the globe. We also wanted to share the work of two locations specifically this week, where supporting women and girls to develop skills has been a priority.

In New Delhi, five schools with girls ages 10-14 took part in a Hackathon on 7 February, with a session led by iOi facilitator Karien Stroucken.

The girls’ projects focussed mainly around the UN Sustainable Development Goal ‘Life on Land’. They used micro:bit and their creativity to come up with solutions that related to their environment.

Sustainability was a strong theme, in response to ‘life on land’. One prototype measured  soil moisture to ensure maximum plant growth and efficient use of watering devices. The micro:bit was used to detect soil moisture and their plan was that an alert for low moisture would trigger watering.

Another looked at the bio gas produced by human waste! This project responded to an initiative trialled by the Indian government on the train system in 2011, but failed. The student team wanted to innovate around this idea and prototyped their micro:bit’s sensors to ‘detect’ when a train is ready to transfer its waste using lights and servos motors.

What’s next?

Our workshops in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania kick off this week with teacher training and a student Hackathon on Saturday 15 February led by Helen Farley and James Brown. Saturday’s students come from local schools and there will be over 40 students taking part in the event. Crucially for this week of celebrating women and girls in science, the group will be made up of three quarters girls.

It’s our responsibility to put the keys to the future in the hands of young people. Through representative leadership in sciences, nurturing the skills of girls and boys together through training and opportunity and lifting up girls where they may have been let down or allowed to fall behind due to a lack of opportunity, we aim to do our part to redress imbalances and break down stereotypes.

Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science from everyone at iOi!

P.S…want to host your own Hackathon? You can download our Hackathon guide, created in partnership with British Council, for free here.

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