MassTLC is excited to be running the local regional program of Technovation again this year, and we need your help. Technovation is an international program that teaches mobile app development, entrepreneurship, and community engagement to middle and high school girls. Last year, we had over 40 teams compete regionally and were able to send three senior division teams and two junior division teams from Massachusetts to the global semi-finals! This year, we hope to do even better and involve even more members of the community. Are you a tech professional who wants to give back to the community and support girls in tech? If yes, we’d love to have you as a judge or mentor for this year’s program.
What’s it like to be a mentor? Corinne Jager, Youth Program Director at Science Club for Girls (SCFG), a non-profit dedicated to fostering excitement, confidence and literacy in STEM for girls, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM, recently sat down with two of Technovation’s experienced mentors to ask them about their experiences.
What was a highlight of the Technovation Challenge for your team?
Eugene: The Technovation Challenge brought a group of girls with widely different backgrounds together and made them into a mutually dependent team. The competition was just an excuse to learn and motivate each other to build something impactful and wholly unique towards their vision of the future.
Kristen: My team of girls really excelled at the video portion of the Technovation challenge, and it was a highlight for me to see them plan and execute a product video for their app, Zesti. They really communicated who their customer was and how Zesti could help them in a way that was engaging and entertaining!
How has being an SCFG Tech Team mentor served you?
Eugene: I believe in girl power. The young women I had the opportunity to get to know through the Science Club for Girls are headed for the stars. We will have a future where more women will be designing and building technologies that affect our communities at the local and global scale. I had a great time being able to coach and befriend such a special group of girls.
Kristen: Mentoring for SCFG really reinforced for me that STEM education is moving in the right direction. Comparing their attitudes and knowledge of STEM fields to what I knew at their age is incredible, and I’m sure the next generation of girls will be miles ahead.
What were you most impressed by about your group of girls? Surprised by?
Eugene: We talked about values of teamwork, respect, and initiative. Despite such demanding school schedules, we followed these principles consistently and seriously. They challenged each other to put their best foot forward and would encourage each other even outsider of the context of Science Club for Girls.
I was surprised by how many gummy bears we ate together as a team.
Kristen: I was impressed by the girls’ knowledge of issues in their communities and willingness to address them, no matter how big or small. They were all incredibly ambitious and reached farther to apply technologies to problems than I ever would have expected.
What do you see as the value of having Technovation be an all-girl challenge?
Eugene: Fewer boys will be disappointed when competing against these girls in Technovation.
Kristen: By having this safe space where all of their peers were girls, the SCFG members were able to open up and ask about issues they faced in school or otherwise. It was an incredibly respectful working environment, which I believe was in part due to the camaraderie of shared experience for this group. They were able to empower each other through collaboration and some friendly competition and push each other farther by example.
What advice would you give to other adults interested in serving as mentors?
Eugene: Being present is a present.
Kristen: I would encourage any adult, male or female, to mentor a group like this. It is very important to view other perspectives and bring that knowledge into your own workplace. Plus, if you think society is going under, the sheer quality of the work these girls produce and their attitudes while doing it will no doubt make you feel better!__
Interested in learning more?
Registration for the 2018 Technovation Challenge is open. Learn more.
Visit the MassTLC Ed Foundation website for a calendar of STEM events
Get a tech industry executive’s perspective on the power of Technovation here
See what last year’s participants have to say about the their experience here