Vanessa Vella and Bernine Caruana are founders of MissInTech. A voluntary organization aimed at supporting women in the tech area. As well as, educating and intriguing female interest in the ICT sector.
Mission Statement: MissInTech aims at unleashing idle women power in the ICT field which is currently being lost because of gender gaps.
What motivated you to start MissInTech?
The idea of MissInTech came after Bernine and I participated in a tech start-up competition. Realized that out of 36 participants, only three were female (including ourselves!)
We were still undergraduates at the time, but we really wanted to make a difference in closing the gender gap in ICT and that is what motivated us to set-up MissInTech. Bernine & I believe in educating women in IT. We strive to build their confidence and resilience to enable them to become more involved in a predominantly male industry.
Do you believe IT is predominantly taken up by men rather than women due to local culture? Do you see the same trend on an international level?
We look at gender gaps as the result of many underlying issues. Mainly the way in which the media portrays employees in ICT (men with glasses, sitting behind a computer), gender pay gaps (which are less of a problem locally than they are internationally) and an overall lack of education in the Tech industry. Tech is not just coding; ICT is everywhere, in all industries.
What tips can you give parents to close gender gaps in the ICT sector?
We believe in education, so it’s important for parents to:
- Know history – Women created important scientific accomplishments in ICT
- Research – there are many opportunities in ICT such as graphic design, teaching, software development and hardware technicians that are good career paths for both genders
According to statistics provided by the NSO, females earn 23% less than their male counterparts in professional, scientific and tech industries. In what way do you hope MissInTech can help balance out these figures for our future generation?
Unfortunately change takes time, but creating more awareness about the cause helps! Instigating discussion about what needs to be done will shed light on the changes needed for future generations.
You have held a number of Whizzette workshops where children aged 6+ can learn about the world of programming. From these workshops, have you seen a change in attitude among parents about gender stereotypes?
Parents and Guardians are an essential part of a child’s development. Children look up to their guardians and if they see an interest in ICT, whether the guardian is male or female, they will be motivated to get involved in the subject and ask meaningful questions. Our workshops create an interest in ICT for both parents and children regardless of gender. We aim to make our sessions as fun as we can. We make use of robots and we strongly encourage students to ask questions and learn.
Is there a gadget you can’t live without?
We work in tech so we can’t really imagine ourselves not having an accessible mobile/laptop all the time.
What was your most enraging tech moment?
Back in 2016. Bernine and I were at the Web Summit in Portugal. We were networking at one of the stations and we had just met two men who held top positions at their firm. When we introduced ourselves as two software developer students, they started laughing uncontrollably and thought we were joking. They reacted in that way, because the IT sector was more male-oriented and suggested that we should pursue a more feminine career. That moment was one of the driving forces behind MissInTech. To help women become more involved in ICT and to avoid future female generations from having to explain why they love Tech.
What is the future for MissInTech?
We aim to provide an educative, fun and knowledge-sharing experience for both kids and adults who are in their circle. Whether its guardians, teachers, parents, guidance counsellors and alike.