“I want you to know there’s a place for you in this industry,” Sundar Pichai, Google Chief Executive Officer said to the young women finalists at Technovation, a months-long app-building competition. “There’s a place for you at Google. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here, and we need you.”
His remarks came at a particularly controversial time, when software engineer James Damore’s manifesto went viral. Damore criticized Google’s diversity efforts and said women may be worse at tech jobs due to biological differences. He was fired by Pichai.
At the Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit award ceremony, girls around the world proved Damore wrong. Since 2009, Technovation has inspired and supported thousands of teen girls in learning to code and make their own apps. 2,300 apps addressing social issues have been made.
Technovation is held by the nonprofit Iridescent, which aims to “empower the world’s underrepresented young people, especially girls, through engineering and technology to become innovators and leaders.” This year, Google partnered with the program to bring the finalists to the center of the tech world.
During the summit, the final six teams in the senior division presented their apps, which targeted problems from female genital mutilation, to building recycling infrastructure, to assisting pregnant women. They also presented business plans, expansion goals, and inspirational behind their projects.
The winners of this year’s competition, from Almaty, Kazakhstan, were the creators of the app QamCare. The problem they aim to solve is a relatable one: feeling unsafe when walking home alone after dark. One team member shared her story of realizing a man was following her as she walked home alone. Though she was able to make it home safe, not everyone does: 9 people go missing every day in Kazakhstan, including many underage girls.
Technovation definitely is inspiring a new generation of women in tech.
Teen Vogue (2)