AWS has announced a winner for the most recent run of its GetIT competition aimed at encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers among young teen girls.
The competition, aimed at young women between the ages of 12 and 14, asks participants to create an application designed to solve a real-world problem.
This year’s winners were from St George’s School in Edinburgh where the team created an app aimed at helping people with specific dietary requirements find somewhere to eat.
Andy Leask, head of e-learning at the winning school, said: “We are delighted that our students won AWS GetIT 2023 against such tough competition. Taking part in the AWS GetIT programme has been really eye-opening and inspirational, particularly for the students to see just how much technology feeds into all careers, and how much more there is to the technology industry – it’s not just coding!
“The students also learned a lot of soft skills such as working as a team, problem solving, and responding to data and feedback. We had a former student as our AWS GetIT Ambassador and mentor, and the students really appreciated her support and encouragement throughout the process.”
Despite girls outperforming boys in subjects such as computing when it comes to GCSE and A-Level, many young women choose not to pursue technology education or careers, some because they deem the related subjects “too hard”, or because they believe STEM subjects aren’t for girls. However, many then go on to regret dropping STEM subjects so early.
One of the other reasons girls choose not to go into tech careers is because of a lack of visible and accessible role models, so when girls can’t see people like them doing technology jobs, the stereotype of tech not being for girls is reinforced.
As part of the AWS GetIT programme, AWS ambassadors – who are women or non-binary people already in a tech career at Amazon or AWS – help each team with their participation, giving girls access to some of the role models that may show them a potential path into an IT career.
Tanuja Randery, managing director EMEA at AWS and one of the judges of the final, said: “The technology industry today is home to a wide variety of job roles. Programmes like AWS GetIT are important for highlighting these opportunities and inspiring the next generation of tech leaders – particularly girls – to pursue a career in the industry.
“Students who take part in the programme get the opportunity to learn about technology and the cloud, as well as how it can be applied to solve challenges in their local communities, and beyond.
“We hope this programme has inspired these students to consider a future career in the tech industry, and build on the foundational skills they have learned.”
GetIT participant schools are provided with a curriculum which helps the students taking part learn tech and cloud skills, and further develop those skills by using them to develop an app that will help people within their community. Anecdotally, women – even if in tech – are more likely to gravitate towards industries where they are helping a community or solving a real-world problem.
As well as the winning Food 4 U app, which was chosen by a panel of expert judges, other teams developed apps aimed at helping people who have immigrated settle in their new country and an app that chooses a random recipe to help college and university students choose what to cook.
Amazon and AWS have set up many projects over the past few years aimed at closing the technology skills gap and encouraging more women and girls into technology. This includes its £8m Amazon Apprenticeship Fund, which has helped smaller businesses who have partnerships with Amazon train hundreds of apprentices; and the Amazon Future Engineer bursary scheme, which helps women from poorer socio-economic backgrounds gain degrees in computer science or engineering.