The Tech Angel team at Wellington Girls' College has been joined by mentoring angel, Cheryl Horo, whose role is to inspire and educate the young women about career opportunities in the IT industry.
Cheryl is the general manager of the non-profit organisation Women in Technology (WIT), and was contacted by the school's deputy principal Denise Johnson, who was looking at ways to further help the Tech Angels.
"One of WIT's objectives is to work with girls in schools to increase awareness of the different careers in the ICT industry. It is a vibrant industry and there is concern about the low number of females coming through it," says Cheryl.
At present women make up only 18 percent of the IT workforce, and the senior Tech Angels who already have an interest in IT are exactly the type of young women Cheryl wants to encourage into the industry.
Two Tech Angels benefiting from Cheryl's guidance and wisdom are Tiffany Kong (18) and Josephine Hall (17). Both are passionate about IT and heavily involved with Tech Angels, devoting up to 15 hours per week to the project. After the ICT director left at the end of last year, Tiffany and Josephine along with two other angels took over the running of the project but were soon struggling with the demands it was making on them.
"We were having a bit of a crisis about what we were doing and the direction the project was heading, and we needed help," says Josephine.
Cheryl, accompanied by WIT mentor and IBM technology specialist Debbie Moon, spent time with the Tech Angels and discussed how WIT could help. "We talked the benefits of mentoring and different careers there are in IT," says Cheryl.
Later, Cheryl invited the senior angels to a series of seminars as well as a one day workshop about careers in IT. For Josephine the day was well worth giving up her Saturday for.
"To see all those female role models who have been hugely successful and made it – I hadn't encountered that before. It was great to see that IT is a real career option and it definitely opened up my eyes but I'm still pretty undecided about what I want to do," says Josephine.
In the meantime, Cheryl has arranged for another WIT mentor and IT consultant, Henrietta Hall, to visit the Tech Angels on a monthly basis. This has given the senior angels renewed enthusiasm and commitment to the project. "Henrietta is helping us to restructure and clarify our planning, goals and direction with the project," says Tiffany.
Josephine and Tiffany's aim is to seamlessly transition the project over to next year's leaders, and they doubt this would achievable without the guidance, encouragement and experience their mentor provides.
Both young women are keen to remain involved in the project, which they describe as "our baby," after they leave school at the end of this year. Study wise, Tiffany is deciding between doing fashion design at Massey University or a BA/BCom at Victoria University. While Josephine is tossing up between a BSc in computer science at Victoria University or a Bachelor of IT at the Australian National University in Canberra – either way, her study choices will be music to Cheryl's ears!