The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against their working conditions. The International Women’s Day was observed for the first time on March 19, 1911, when more than one million women and men attended rallies to support women's right to vote, hold public office and to end discrimination on the job. The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8.
So now that it’s 2017, is International Women’s Day still relevant? The answer is yes, and as the UN shares in it’s 2017 message, we need to raise awareness of the work ahead of us: "Women and girls must be ready to be part of the digital revolution. Currently only 18 per cent of undergraduate computer science degrees are held by women. We must see a significant shift in girls all over the world taking STEM subjects, if women are to compete successfully for high-paying ‘new collar’ jobs. Currently just 25 per cent of the digital industries’ workforce are women."
We need role models to look up to like Anne-Marie Slaughter who has shared about the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality in her book, Unfinished Business, and Laura Weidman Powers who started CODE2040 with a mission to diversify the tech industry. They will both be in Charlottesville on April 14 speaking at the TomTom Founder's Summit (see details below).
We also need people like those at the National Women's History Museum who are helping to write women back into history, so that we can remember, highlight and celebrate the work of women who have forged pathways for future generations. Recent films like Hidden Figures and She Started It do just that. Don't miss your opportunity to check them out. In Charlottesville, there's a free screening of Hidden Figures at PVCC on March 17 and a free screening of She Started It at St. Anne's-Belfield School on April 15.
Spotlight: Yasmin Curren
Each month we spotlight a woman or girl in tech who inspires us. This month we are highlighting Yasmin Curren. She is an online video content creator and influencer with a background in front-end development, currently studying Computer Game Arts. Tech-Girls founder, Kim Wilkens, had the privilege of meeting Yasmin and experiencing her interactive story, Who is Terror? at MozFest 2016.
What drives your interest in technology?
Storytelling has always been my main focus. I am passionate to explore how technology can be used to introduce interactivity to enhance a story and immerse the viewers within fictional worlds.
What do you remember about your first coding experience?
I was studying a Media L3 Diploma in College and asked if I could switch units to study Games as a part of this Diploma. Within this time I was given the task of creating my first game in Unity, where I was confronted with the deadly task of coding some interactivity into the gameplay. I remember spending so long trying to understand how to script a flashlight to turn on and off by key press, but once the code finally worked and I could see it working in-game as I wanted I felt like a god, having full control over a world I created and I could see that with a knowledge of code anything was possible within these digital spaces.
March 11 - Girls' Geek Day at Cale Elementary School. GGD is all about sparking elementary school girls interest in technology and computing by providing a fun, collaborative, hands-on environment to learn new tech skills and helping them connect to other STEM programs in the community. Registration required.
March 17 (new date) - Hidden Figures featured at PVCC Free Movie Night starting at 7:30pm. "Hidden Figures" recounts the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson -- who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. More info.
March 18 - Engineering Open House at UVA is an opportunity for visitors to meet faculty and staff, interact with current students, take tours of state-of-the-art facilities, and attend interesting exhibits, presentations and demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public, and high school students are encouraged to register.
March 18 - Coding Decoded: Tinker with Code, 2pm at Central Library. Learn basic coding concepts using Ozobots, Scratch & More. No experience necessary. For grades 4-8. Registration required & begins Feb 18 (434-979-7151x3 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
April 13 - TomTom Youth Summit. This student planned and student led Summit is open and free to K-12 students. It will include engaging speakers, hands-on workshops, student showcases, student business pitches and a student community innovation challenge. Registration required.
April 14 - TomTom Founder’s Summit will feature Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family and Laura Weidman Powers, Co-founder and CEO of CODE2040. During Women’s History month, women can use the 50% discount code (FSWOMEN) during registration.
April 15 -- She Started It Screening & Panel Discussion starting at 10:30am. She Started It is a feature length documentary film on women tech entrepreneurs, that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. It is the first film to show the behind the scenes of running a tech start-up as a young woman. This event is free and open to the public, but please reserve your ticket.
April 21 - 2017 Women in STEM Conference is an opportunity for girls in middle school to connect with local women in the science and engineering fields. More info & RSVP to Heather Aquith (email@example.com).
April 23 - Ladies in the Lab at UVA. Mark your calendars now, so you don’t miss this awesome afternoon of all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math hosted by female engineers from UVA. More details coming soon.
May 15 (deadline) - The 4th annual Bio-Med Tech-Girls will take place the week of August 7. This experience provides an opportunity for high school students to get a hands-on, behind-the-scenes peek at biomedical research happening right now at UVA. Apply now.