A few weekends ago (and during the weeks preceding the event), I was fortunate enough to be asked to judge Appapalooza, a mobile app competition for young girls. The competition is hosted by Technovation[MN], whose goal is to, “[…] inspire and enable Minnesota teen girls to dream up, design, code, and pitch mobile phone apps.” These young girls form teams to solve a problem within their community by thinking up a mobile app. Then, they build the app and create a business plan to pitch to would-be investors.
My Experience at Appapalooza
When I first signed up as a judge, I didn’t know what to expect. What I experienced at the Appapalooza event blew me away. These girls exuded intelligence and confidence. They recognized real, heavy societal issues and addressed them with technology.
To start, the girls, ages nine through 19, were tasked with identifying a social issue. Teams chose to identify important issues such as sex trafficking, helping the homeless or the hungry, anxiety, mental issues and bullying. Then, they had to develop a plan for a mobile app to remedy these problems and proceed to actually build the app. These girls developed creative and unique solutions that I truly believe could benefit society.
As I reflect on my experience, I can’t help but think that this program is precisely what we need if we want to change the face of the technology industry. Many of the girls discussed their future plans and – to nobody’s surprise – most of them expressed an interest in pursuing a STEM degree. It’s a step in the right direction and I can’t wait to see what next year’s teams bring to the table.
The Future of Tech
Below are some interesting statistics on women in tech in 2016. You might be surprised to learn that the percentage of women in tech has actually decreased from 36% in 1991 to 25% in 2016. I think these figures illustrate that there is a serious need for change in the tech industry and we need to continue to encourage women to join the tech force by providing opportunities such as Appapalooza. Want to chat more about women in tech? Email me– firstname.lastname@example.org.