Every year Cisco Canada celebrates the International Telecommunications Union’s “Girls in ICT Day”. The day is created to link the technology industry to girls, showcase to them the great work that tech companies like Cisco do, and encourage them to consider careers in technology.
This year Cisco’s goal was to host over 80 field trips across the globe and here in Toronto we participated by hosting high school students from St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn and Trafalgar Castle. Volunteers from Cisco Canada planned the event for three months to make sure that it was a great and inspiring day.
There were three major parts of the day –
- an interactive game to simulate how messages are sent on the internet,
- speed-mentoring with Cisco employees so the girls could get an idea of the type of jobs we do, and
- a TelePresence meeting with girls who were on the same field trip but in our Richardson, Texas office.
The TelePresence was definitely a highlight – each school prepared a presentation to describe their community, school, and favourite foods (ketchup chips were a surprise to the Texas girls!). Both schools in Toronto also shared their participation in FIRST robotics competitions – including trips to six world championships by the team at Trafalgar Castle!
This really impressed the teachers in Texas because they have similar programs, but boys – both in the school and at the regional competitions, dominate them. So we asked the girls in Toronto for their advice on how to recruit more into robotics programs. The girls were full of awesome ideas!
Here are some of the ideas they came up with:
- Integrate technology (like robotics) into the regular science curriculum so that girls get exposure
- When recruiting for the team, emphasize the benefits of participation for boys and girls. Travelling to competitions, for instance, is of interest to girls
- Recruit girls for the business side of the team – in our girls’ experience, some teammates started by working on business plans and fund-raising, then saw how fun the robotics side could be and switched roles!
- The funniest idea was “trick them!” But on further explanation this really came down to creating a theme, uniform, etc. that would appeal to girls.
All of their ideas were terrific, and we hope that schools across Canada and worldwide listen to what these girls told us on April 25th.