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Not for profit groups inspiring Australian girls in STEM

tarynewens profile image Taryn Ewens Originally published at taryn.codes ・6 min read

Recently I was interested in finding out what exists around Australia to teach, inspire, or mentor young girls to see the possibilities of STEM subjects and careers.

Why just girls you may ask? Well, while I excelled at the one very basic and poorly taught IT class that was offered during my years at high school, it was not something I ever considered as a career.

I’d been coding since I was 10 years old, but I didn’t talk about it because it wasn’t a cool thing that girls did. I deeply regret that it took me an extra decade after high school to find the confidence to pursue something I’d always loved. This is why it’s personally important to me that the next generation of young girls have the opportunities and role models that I didn’t. This is why I focused on girls.

I started searching for these organisations but I knew there must be more than my initial results. So I turned to tech Twitter and asked for help. I had a huge response which was amazing! I decided to collate my research and share some of the groups that were suggested, just in case anyone else out there is ever looking for the same information that I was.

Hopefully this list will be useful to someone.

Update: after receiving feedback I have created a GitHub repo called Australian Women STEM Groups that anyone can add to!

For young girls specifically

HER TECH PATH

I’m so glad Her Tech Path was suggested and it already holds a place close to my heart because it’s in my home city of Adelaide. It’s a grass-roots community that organises for professional women in tech to go into high schools and talk to girls about their career journey. These sessions are free to the schools as all the women involved are volunteering their time.

The goal is to inspire the next generation of women in tech. I’m really excited to hear about this group and it’s something I really wish were available when I was in high school! They have membership options for both professionals and students.

How you can help: Once you’re a member you can help out by volunteering to participate in (or conducting) these sessions at high schools across Adelaide. You can also join as a mentor and/or attend regular networking events.

ROBOGALS

RoboGals is an international group, but there are a whole bunch of local chapters happening right here in Australia!

The chapters are run by volunteers who are uni students or young professionals (of all genders!) and they run free engineering & technology workshops in their local areas. The focus is on encouraging girls from primary to secondary school to explore an interest and gain self confidence in these areas.

How you can help: Volunteer at or sponsor your local chapter. There are groups in most of the major cities (and some other areas too!).

RAILS GIRLS

The aim of Rails Girls is to give tools and a community to women to understand technology and to build their ideas. It’s a group that was born in Finland, but is now a global non-profit volunteer community.

Although it’s an international group I’ve seen events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Canberra. The most recent event in Sydney was a free one-day workshop with two tracks (beginners and not so beginners) of Ruby on Rails.

How you can help: You can apply to mentor at an upcoming event, or you can sponsor the individual chapters.

GIRLS PROGRAMMING NETWORK

The Girls Programming Network (GPN) operates in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Cairns and Mackay. It’s an extra-curricular program “run by girls and for girls”, aiming to inspire and support high school girls interested in computers and technology.

I looked into the Sydney group and they run workshops once per school term for high school girls, and past workshops have included writing games, making interactive websites, and taking apart computers!

How you can help: You can apply to be a tutor for the workshops or set up a GPN near you if there isn’t one already. I’m sure they would also appreciate sponsorship for their workshops!

TECH GIRLS MOVEMENT

The Tech Girls Movement is a non-profit which exists to give girls access to technology and programs to build their confidence and inspire them to STEM careers.

The group has a number or programs including workshops, a range of ‘Tech Girls are Superheroes’ books (free for Australian school girls), and a ‘Next Tech Girl Superhero’ program.

How you can help: There is a donation link on their website if you would like to support them.

Some extra organisations for all genders

CODE CLUB AUSTRALIA

Code Club are a charity aiming to give every child the skill, confidence and opportunity to shape their world. They’re a network of volunteer-led coding clubs that are free to join. This one isn’t specifically for girls, but I did want to mention it because they do look like they have a great set up and have a huge number of clubs around the country that you can get involved with!

How you can help: You can join a coding club in your area and volunteer one hour a week, or you can start a club yourself if there are none near you. You can also sponsor them!

CS IN SCHOOLS

This is another organisation that I wanted to mention, but isn’t specifically for girls. CS in Schools is a free programme for secondary school teachers, which helps them learn how to successfully teach coding.

It’s an industry-supported programme and they put volunteer computing professionals in the classroom as partners to school teachers and provide everything that’s needed for free. They also offer mentoring for teachers.

How you can help: You can donate or volunteer. Donations receive a deductible gift receipt, so that’s a bonus at tax time.

Honourable mentions

GIRL GEEK ACADEMY

Girl Geek Academy are very well known among the Australian tech space, and for good reason! Their aim is to increase the number of women with successful STEM careers and they do this by hosting a whole range of programs around coding, 3D printing and wearables, game development, design, entrepreneurship and startups.

These programs are available to the public, but they also work with teachers, schools, corporates and startups. My favourite part about Girl Geek Academy is their new ‘Girl Geek’ book series! I’ve already bought a couple for one of my nieces. These are the sort of books I wish I had growing up!

How you can help: Girl Geek Academy are set up as a social enterprise, so while not technically a not for profit, they are a business that trade to intentionally tackle social problems. I’ve included them in this list because they have an ‘inspire a girl geek’ program coming soon where you can gift a Girl Geek book to a young girl. Keep an eye out for that, it would be such a lovely way to inspire young girls!

MUSESCODEJS

MusesCode JS are a not for profit group, but I’ve put them in honourable mentions only because their events (as far as I’m aware) are aimed at adults. However, they do encourage parents who attend to bring their children so they definitely deserve a shout out.

They run a range of events around Australia, including full day JavaScript workshops, Coding Dojo’s, and more. I’ve attended a few myself and they really are fantastic. Such a supportive environment to learn, and so well organised. I’m hoping to volunteer as a mentor this year.

How you can help: Mentor at an event or help with sponsorship!

Also…

Some other large groups that are worth a mention are She Codes (previously Perth{web}Girls) and Code Like A Girl.

Code Like a Girl is another group set up as a social enterprise. They’re quite well known in the tech community and run some great events. Being a larger group, they seem to be looking more for corporate partnerships.

I couldn’t find any information on how She Codes is set up (whether a not for profit group, social enterprise, etc.) but they also seem to be a larger group. They even won a $210k grant from the state government late last year! They have a lot of mentoring opportunities at their events so definitely worth a look if you’re in Perth. They seem to be focused on more of an adult audience.

Pretty inspiring aren’t they? I’m so thrilled that these groups exist! I really hope I can help out some of them soon. Maybe you can too!

Posted on May 28 by:

tarynewens profile

Taryn Ewens

@tarynewens

Front-end dev with a passion for CSS, a11y & diversity in tech

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