If you ever thought studying computer science was boring and only for men, the ‘Girl Geek Coffees with Google’ event recently hosted at Unitec's Mt Albert campus would surely change that perspective.
Organiser and Unitec’s computing lecturer Mahsa Mohaghegh says, “We are trying to tell the girls interested in computing what this field is all about. It’s not boring or hard, it’s very diverse. We want to show them that it’s a career for anyone, not just the stereotypical ‘geeks’.”
The event was part of Google’s Coffee Club Ambassador programme, which provides opportunities for female students to network with faculty and industry experts. These events are run by student ambassadors across the main tertiary institutes in major cities of New Zealand and Australia.
Archana Patel, who is currently doing a PG Diploma in Computing at Unitec, is one such ambassador. “The problem is people don’t take us women seriously. I was never advised to study computing as a good option for me, it’s only my interest that got me here. I’m happy I get a chance to encourage others.”
The students, who were from varied backgrounds, found the event to be a great opportunity to share stories, get advice and gain inspiration. Aine Molloy, Networks OSS Operations Lead at Vodafone New Zealand, was also there to motivate the students with her own experience and industry insights.
Mohaghegh says all the effort Unitec is making in partnering with industry and organising workshops is simply about being able to help girls achieve their potential. “Right now I have a class of 100 and I only have 10 girls. Organisations are also looking for a balanced environment and know that women in computing can change a lot of things.”