October 23, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
A voluntary-led charity, Teen-Turn places disadvantaged teen girls into after school activities, two-week internships and a network of peers under the mentorship of female role models from technology companies located near their communities.
More girls, from areas where third level education is uncommon, exploring and gaining an interest in technology has the potential to lead to more women earning technology qualifications, thus providing opportunities for participants to acquire job security and meeting a demand for skills that is currently outpacing supply and is necessary for economic competitiveness.
Resultantly, Teen-Turn is positioned (1) to develop a local talent pool of skilled young women, (2) to promote technology careers and post-secondary school education to girls, and (3) to create equality of opportunity in target areas, particularly in the context of a digital society.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
The aim of Teen-Turn is to clear the barriers of stereotype, low-confidence and how girls from disadvantaged communities see themselves by providing practical experience, role models and resources.
Managing to enroll and keep underrepresented girls in technology learning is not easy. Alternative delivery systems to formal education are needed, with hands-on activities and enabling environments key contributors to success. Teen-Turn developed an immersive experience that is followed up with reinforcement and recurring skills training and personal development along the "Junior Cert to Job" route.
Teen-Turn’s intervention has already affected our targeted beneficiaries, with 100% of our pilot participants reporting-through our monitoring framework-that the after school activities led to them feeling as though they could ‘fit in’ a STEM course environment.
Although this change of perspective is seemingly small, the central finding of research into students’ attitudes towards studying STEM by Amárach Research and Science Foundation Ireland indicates that “fitting in” outweighs all other factors—course prospects, parent and teacher guidance—in terms of influence.
Given the importance “fitting in” has on choosing courses after secondary school, be it third level or further education and training, there is a strong basis, as verified by the academic evidence, to link the above result, attributable to the Teen-Turn experience, to an eventual increase in technology subject and career choices by participants.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
Teen-Turn’s ‘hands-on experience’ intervention model for disadvantaged girls and the rationale behind it--the 6-7% of women in technology, the 44,000 jobs in ICT in Ireland over the next 6 years that will be a challenge to fill, and the 15% third level course uptake rate in underrepresented communities—has proven successful, with measurable outcomes including leaving cert course choices, third level enrollment and job acquisition.
Teen-Turn can report: 80% of participants stated that they would now consider pursuing STEM studies as part of a career path, with Data Science and Engineering the most cited; 60% of participants have returned to a technology career environment for further work experience; 50% have taken up digital skills learning activities including those related to coding and engineering; 15% have participated in the BT Young Scientist competition for the first time; 100% of partner companies have committed to host again; 100% of partner schools have committed to continued participation; and two new rural areas, near Sligo and Athlone, will be joining the program in 2019.
As participants blog about their experiences, an example of a personal transformation can be found here: https://jennonikki.blogspot.com/2017/08/analog-diary-final-day.html
What makes this Organisation unique?
What distinguishes Teen-Turn is its focus on underrepresented girls, long-term interactions which include work placement and after school programming over several years, and the creation of networks amongst mentors and mentees.
A year-round program, school officers nationwide actively recruit and place candidates whom they believe will benefit most from Teen-Tum programming. There is also a vibrant alumni network of teen girls in the final years of secondary school and starting third level. Over 30 companies now host the summer work placements, while an additional 11 provide mentors for after school programs. In fact, Teen-Turn offers an average of one women-in-STEM mentor for every 2 participants, with established relationships with 150 company mentors as of 2018.
Teen-Turn has created a network of women-in-STEM working at various stages in their careers who can share with one another approaches to mentorship, engage in dialogues about their industry as it is for women and as it should be, and communicate the importance of encouraging girls and each other to succeed. By empowering these women to show, first hand, what it is to work and flourish in technology career environment to teenaged girls, they are positioned in leadership roles for the next generation to see and aspire to be.
How can the public support this work?
For our after school programming, we're looking for individual mentor volunteers with expertise in app/software development, biological, health, and medical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, research methods, demo-ing and presentations (particularly of pre-commercial prototypes and research) as well as business, marketing and project management.
Companies interested in hosting participants for two weeks of work experience in a STEM career environment, with hands-on project work and female role models, are very welcome.
We also seek USB flash drives (new or repurposed) and snacks for our learning sessions.
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
We are a registered charity, upholding the best practices of the Charity Regulator (RCN20157739), and in keeping with Revenue's CHY standards (CHY22169). We are also on the "Journey" with Governance Code.ie. Further to this, our constitution and annual reporting is available through the Company Registration Office (CRO628113).