Young women are crazy about IT and technology

For the 14th time, the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University opened its doors to IT Camp for girls. This year there has been a huge interest for exchanging the autumn holiday with IT Camp, and with 55 participants from all over the country, the organisers can report a record-high number of participants.

2019.11.10 | Sofia Rasmussen

The IT camp for girls organizers can celebrate the highest number of participants for 14 years! Photo: IT Camp

Over three intense days, the participants have experienced an exciting but also challenging programme to get a better insight into the Computer Science and IT Product-Development programmes offered at the department. The girls have amongst other things participated in lectures, theoretical exercises, and workshops in subjects such as cryptography, sketching, and programming. Furthermore, they got an opportunity to meet female role models and to go on company visits.

A starving field

There is an acute shortage of IT specialists in Denmark, and the IT-field foresees that there will be a shortage of 19.000 IT specialists in 2030 (https://itb.dk/nyheder/skrigende-mangel-paa-it-kompetencer-i-fremtiden/). According to a study made by DR (https://www.dr.dk/ligetil/saa-mange-kvinder-arbejder-i-din-branche), women only constitute a fifth of the overall working force with computer programming. Getting more women interested in IT is essential in mitigating the need for IT specialists. To achieve this, initiatives such as IT Camp for girls are an important tool, and many IT-companies have also actively participated in this year’s camp.

“Some of Microsoft’s primary values are ‘Diversity and inclusion’ and ‘Innovation’. By sponsoring IT Camp for girls, Microsoft wishes to acknowledge and support the importance of getting more women to start and complete a career within IT. Diversity is essential in getting the different points-of-view that are needed when assembling the creative development-teams, which are a part of creating the innovative solutions of the future”, says Mads Villadsen, Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft, which in 2019 was the primary sponsor for IT Camp For Girls.

 More and more women choose IT as a career direction

In general, women are underrepresented on all of the country’s IT-educations, but more programmes have the last few years experienced an increase in female students. This also applies to Aarhus University, where they in 2019 admitted 13% women at Computer Science while IT Product Development has 19% female students. A lot of factors play a part in this, but the department sees IT camp for girls as a significant factor.

“I am very happy that so many young women want to join our IT-Camp, and become wiser about our exciting IT programmes. There is IT in everything, and with an education in IT Product Development or Computer Science these young women can look forward to a lot of exciting jobs within many different lines of businesses. There is a great need for IT-specialists, but an even greater need for female IT-specialists. I hope that we get to meet many of the women again after the summer break, as students on one of Aarhus University’s IT programmes”, says professor and  head of department department Kaj Grønbæk from the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University.

It looks like Kaj Grønbæk’s wish for more female students can come true. The camp, which the girls described as inspiring, an eye-opener, and extremely educational, has had a particularly positive effect on their view on IT as a future study and career. Before the camp, only 31% considered IT as their future study, but after the camp, this number increased to 75%.

 IT camp for girls takes place again in 2020. Anyone interested can keep an eye out for the event at https://www.itcamp.dk/.

*** FACTS ***

IT camp for girls takes place as the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University in the autumn holiday. The camp is organised by passionate, volunteering students from Computer Science and IT Product Development, and is sponsored by multiple Danish IT-companies. Further information can be found on: https://www.itcamp.dk/

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