With a focus on Year 9 and 10 girls from Māori and Pasifika backgrounds, the DigiWāhine programme strives to dispel stereotypes associated with high tech jobs through mentors, role models, and technical experiences. The first online event was a roaring success.
In late November and early December 2021, DigiWāhine hosted its first online event, a multi-day series for students around Aotearoa tuning in from the comfort of their homes and classrooms. The three days featured a range of speakers, showcases and workshops that drew more than 75 girls from across the country, excited to learn about the tech sector. The chat windows were buzzing with questions, ideas and exclamations while the online photo wall was filled with their beautiful creations.
Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, kicked off the first day with an incredible opening address around her career journey and life lessons. Then students witnessed a paw-inspiring presentation by Aware Group featuring Spot the Robo-Dog and how Spot assisted in mapping the Christchurch Cathedral following the Christchurch earthquake.
Other key highlights from the event were a talk by Venus Taare, Surface Specialist at Microsoft, on her path within technology and the possibilities for careers, a hands-on game design workshop with OMGTech’s Kawana, an App Lab on coding and Datacom’s “wow” demonstration of Minecraft for business, HoloLens and a digital human.
Amber Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO of ARA Journeys, also had the students riveted as she explored her journey of Māori knowledge preservation, while Lana Cleverley, Software Engineer at Microsoft, began the last day with an exciting exploration of how she came into the tech world and how tech careers have evolved to offer so many possibilities to students.
As one teacher said: “What I love about this is that it teaches students about risk and putting themselves out there, learning to live with risk to create what they see in their head and heart. Thank you for this.”
A truly fantastic start to Microsoft’s #10KWomen programme, and we have a lot more planned. Watch this space!
None of this would have been possible without the support from the participating schools and teachers that went above and beyond, along with the incredible organisations innovating in the tech sector, and all of the students in their digital journey.
As we enter 2022, Microsoft DigiWāhine is looking to support young generations of Māori and Pasifika around New Zealand in their career and technology journeys through online and in-person events, with the goal to inspire future innovators.