By Madhavi Bhasin
“For me, technology wasn’t an option. I never thought about doing something in technology. But [after Technovation], it’s totally in my mind to do something in the technology field.” – Technovation participant, 2013
This quote always makes me reflect on my professional journey and how profoundly some experiences have shaped my career trajectory and approach to life. As the first girl in my family to complete high school, college and finally earn my Ph.D., I am fully aware of how certain experiences in my formative years conditioned my thinking and gave me the courage to hang on and move ahead. Today, I am honored and humbled to be part of a movement that is offering one such experience to girls across the globe – an experience to learn, fail, seek support and create something!
Technovation, offered by Iridescent, is the world’s largest technology entrepreneurship program for young girls (ages 10-18). This program offers young girls a unique experience to work in a team with an adult mentor to solve a problem in their community using technology. More than teaching technology or entrepreneurship, this program aims to inspire young girls to be lifelong learners, problem solvers, and community leaders. Irrespective of the career choices they make, Technovation seeks to provide an experience where young girls can develop a wide range of professional and personal skills and make informed education and career decisions.
How did the journey start?
Technovation, currently in its 8th year, started as an in-person mentoring program with 24 girls at Google in Silicon Valley. Coming out of a Startup Weekend, the idea was to provide a safe sandbox for young girls to have the experience of launching a technology start-up. Under the folds of Iridescent, the program expanded to select US locations in the second year. Finally, the need to offer the program beyond major cities prompted the need to offer a virtual curriculum and support network. Today, Technovation is in 103 countries and has impacted 15,000 girls.
How does the program work?
Just 7% of governments, 4.4% of major corporations, 17% of leading universities, and 2% of the world’s religions are currently led by women. The lack of women leaders is a major problem because it is well documented that empowering girls is the strongest determinant of progress for every development outcome – from economic growth to equity, creativity, and innovation. One way to leapfrog traditional methods for advancing women is to bring technology leadership experiences to young girls early on so that they develop a robust sense of self-efficacy as technology leaders – which is where Technovation comes into the picture.
Girls and mentors are invited to register on the Technovation platform and work in teams. Each team can have up to 5 girls and 2 mentors. The team completes the Technovation online curriculum focused on ideation, coding, entrepreneurship, and pitching. Between October and April each year, Technovation teams commit to 12 or 20 weeks to the program. The completed deliverables are submitted to Technovation for review at the end of April. Using a standardized judging rubric, volunteer judges from across the globe provide scores and feedback to each team. 12 top scoring teams from across the globe are invited to Silicon Valley for an opportunity to live-pitch their app idea and win scholarship money.
What has been the impact?
In 2017, more than 11,000 girls participated in the program and submitted close to 1,000 app ideas for the competition. Over the past 8 years, Technovation has emerged as one of the largest repository of innovative app ideas for community issues. The impact of the program on individual girls and the community is much larger.
After participating in Technovation:
- 78% of the students were more interested in Computer Science
- 70% of the students were more interested in Entrepreneurship
- 67% of the students were more interested in Business Leadership
How can you join this movement?
Technovation’s global community, comprising of thousands of volunteers, mentors, and partners have made this program possible. We invite you to join the Technovation community and #girlsforachange movement to scale and deepen our reach. You can get involved in the following ways:
- Spread the word: Registrations for the 2018 Technovation program is open. Share this opportunity in your community and help more girls to join the program.
- Mentor a team: Anyone (women and men) over the age of 18 can mentor a team. The mentors are expected to support and inspire the girls and no specific technical or business skills are needed.
- Partner with Technovation: Explore ways in which your company or organization can partner with Technovation. Our partners usually support local Technovation Chapters, offer group mentorships, host Technovation events.
Technovation is not just a coding program; it’s an experience, it’s a community, it is an opportunity! Join this community to offer a richer experience and wider opportunities to young girls.