Special DreamSpace event helps to inspire local girls

by Padraig Conlon

A group of local students marked Girls in ICT Day with an inspiring visit to one of the world’s biggest IT companies.

Students from 5th and 6th class, St Kevin’s Girls National School, Tallaght, were among a group of over 80 girls invited to DreamSpace – Microsoft’s education hub – to undertake a special immersive digital skills experience.

International Girls in ICT Day aims to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.

Last Thursday (25th) Microsoft welcomed the girls to its campus for the special DreamSpace event to inspire them about the opportunities unlocked through STEM and meet with young successful women who are blazing a trail by harnessing the power of creativity and technology.

With sessions in MicroBit coding and 3D paint modelling to foster critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills, the girls were empowered to succeed into the future through STEM subjects.

The event is a key element of Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign aiming to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The students also had the opportunity to meet with young successful women, who have used their digital skills to succeed.

12-year-old EU Digital Girl of the Year 2018, Aoibheann Mangan spoke about how her interest in coding and the importance of digital skills to empower girls to become future leaders.

Entrepreneur Nicki Hoyne, founder and CEO of My Shining Armour, shared how technological innovation supported her online accessories business, and encouraged the girls to open their minds to the career opportunities that emerge in the STEM space.

“I’m delighted to join Microsoft in showcasing the power of creativity and technology in unlocking new career opportunities for young girls across Ireland,” she said.

“When I was growing up my current job didn’t exist.

“Through the transformation of technology and belief in my creativity, I now run an international business that competes with long-established retailers.

“The #MakeWhatsNext campaign is a great way to inspire girls to open their minds to STEM, as whatever their future holds technology will be at the heart of it.”

Aoibheann Mangan, EU Digital Girl of the Year, said: “Through STEM, I’ve gotten to do things I could never expect; my websites have won awards across Europe and I’ve gotten to travel and speak about the importance of digital skills, especially giving all girls the opportunity to discover their STEM talent.

“For girls to succeed in technology, we need to level the playing field.

“As coding is not on the primary curriculum and not all secondary schools are able to offer the subject at Junior or Senior cycle, it’s important to have places like DreamSpace and companies like Microsoft investing in our futures, as it may be the only chance some students get to experience technology and spark a lifelong passion for STEM.”

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