By Tara Chklovski (Founder & CEO, Iridescent)
The Technovation Challenge is a technology and entrepreneurship program for high school girls, founded by Dr. Anuranjita Tewary (Sr. Data Scientist, Linkedin) and implemented by Iridescent, a national, science-education nonprofit.
Over the course of ten weeks, girls work with professional women in technology to develop mobile phone apps. The girls learn to use a visual programming language called App Inventor. They present their phone apps and business plans to a panel of VCs at a high visibility “Pitch Night” event. The program has been running for two years and has reached more than 270 girls and 130 mentors in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York City.
Yujin Chung, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, recently participated in the Bay Area Technovation Challenge and was impressed with the passion of the teams’ pitches and quality of the developed apps. Inspired by the mission of Iridescent and the challenges that his mother faced as the first female computer programmer in Korea, Yujin and Tara brainstormed an event to bring together rising women leaders in technology.
The result is a compelling “Stories in Leadership” event on November 2, 2011 at Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park, CA. The event brings together women leaders in technology and innovation to share their stories, experiences and passion for their industry.
The panelists include Marissa Mayer (VP of Local/Geo, Google), Padmasree Warrior (CTO, Cisco), Freada Kapor (Founder, Level Playing Field Institute), Angela Benton (Founder & CEO, NewMe Accelerator) and Sandy Jen (Co-Founder & CTO, Meebo). The panel moderator will be tech entrepreneur, researcher and writer Vivek Wadhwa. The panel will be followed by a presentation on Technovation Challenge, and end with a networking cocktail hour.
For more info and to register for this FREE event, click here.
About Technovation Challenge
Technovation Challenge addresses the imbalance within STEM/ICT disciplines where girls and women are more likely to be users rather than inventors by encouraging them to build, design and invent solutions to real-world problems.
We provide a structured path from a woman-only, woman-centered, safe, learning space to high visibility technical presentation events.
Technovation Challenge sessions are only open to women participants so that they can safely step out of their comfort zones and develop new skills. Through gradual preparation, students develop the skills and confidence needed to present formally at high visibility events in front of top-tier venture capitalists and investors.
Click here for a video giving an overview of the program and its impact on the girls
Benefits of Mentoring
We increase girls’ access to social capital by helping them interact and build relationships with women in the high-tech industry. Through these interactions girls learn more about pursuing STEM/ICT academic degrees and careers. Women role models are also advised to acknowledge the complexities of balancing multiple roles and responsibilities. They share their personal accounts and stories of struggle instead of only focusing on the professional story.
“I think that the best thing about participating in the Technovation Challenge was finding out about so many resources for women in the science and engineering fields. I like how there was an actual program that enables you to create your own app. I also thought it was interesting how we went through the whole business process because I never knew about any of these things before,” said a Technovation student.
The program is transformational not only for the girls but for the mentors as well. The product development experience they get helps them overcome any doubt in their abilities to be inventors and entrepreneurs. As seen from the graph below, 82% of our mentors said that the experience increased their knowledge about entrepreneurship and 97% said that it expanded their network of other women in technology.
“The [Technovation Challenge] experience was absolutely amazing, and my group of girls inspired me to start something of my own… watching my high school team code such an awesome app made me realize that I could do it too!” said a Technovation mentor.
We encourage women in the tech industry to come out for “Stories of Leadership” and learn more about getting involved in a transformational program for girls and women.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Tara Chklovski is Founder and CEO of Iridescent, a science education non-profit with sites in Los Angeles, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Minneapolis. She has a degree in Physics and Aerospace Engineering and is very passionate about inspiring children to be curious about the world around them and to strive to be inventors, designers and entrepreneurs.