UNOSAT Encourages Girls to Consider Tech Career Choices

UNOSAT encourages girls to consider tech career choices27 May 2016, Geneva, Switzerland – When you are young, you imagine what your future could be and think about eventual career choices. Believe it or not, we still face numerous barriers when it comes time to choose a career path. One of them is linked to the high number of stereotypes based on gender. Many still think that women are more suited for the arts and support roles while men are better suited for math and engineering. This year, we, at UNOSAT, became directly involved in the Girls in ICT Day (Information and Communication Technology). This initiative from ITU (International Telecommunication Union) aims at raising awareness on empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider studies and careers in ICT (source: Girls in ICT website).

As a technology intensive programme hosted at CERN and with 50% of our colleagues being women, UNOSAT is in a good position to support this initiative.

Thus, on 20th April, our colleagues Rohini Swaminathan, Phyllis Obare and Mauro Arcorace, welcomed about 15 girls from the International School of Geneva for a hands-on workshop about satellite mapping.

After a brief introduction and theory, the girls were presented with a scenario and a mission: an earthquake has hit Geneva, you must collect data of affected buildings and map them. In order to do this, the students were given a GPS and our UN-ASIGN app on their smartphones. With the data they collected, they were able to build a live web-map and also use 3D modelling tools. The girls enjoyed the learning experience and appreciated being exposed to geo-information technologies.

A few days later, on 28th April, ITU orRohini Swaminathan from UNOSAT talking with studentsganized an exhibit and speed mentoring event at its headquarters in Geneva in which UNOSAT participated. Girls could ask all of their questions to the femlae professionals at the event.

We received very encouraging feedback from Lorraine McDowell, President of "Elargis tes Horizons" Geneva, who helped organize the workshop: “The girls […] really enjoyed it […]. It was a great insight for them (and for us) on the application of science and I am sure will go on to motivate the girls in their careers.”

We are very happy we could contribute to the Girls in ICT Day this year. It all happened thanks to the very inspiring TEDx Talk from Rohini last February in TEDxPlaceDesNations: “There is nothing natural about disasters”. This talk already inspired young people to consider geomatics as a career choice and was already viewed more than 15’000 times around the world. Let’s spread the word and show the world that we have great women in tech! Share it with your network!

Photo 1: Phyllis Obare from UNOSAT talking to students

Photo 2: Rohini Swaminathan from UNOSAT discussing with students