Rosie Awori (LJI)
The past decade has seen a great rise in STEM, (science, technology, engineering, math) opportunities for employment and innovation.
However, although STEM remains mostly a man’s world often showcased in the leadership and opportunities that dominate Silicon Valley among other hubs, women have been making in-roads amid the general consensus that job markets increasingly require technological skills and scientific proficiency.
So there’s a need for women to bring their expertise and know-how to the industry.
Montrealer Stephanie Jecrois is on the forefront of that drive.
Driven by her passion to better communities, she co-founded the Montreal chapter of technovation in 2014, a non-profit organization that aims to reduce the gender gap in science and technology by encouraging young girls to develop their entrepreneurial leadership to ultimately pursue careers in the sector.
Technovation offers interactive learning programs in which young people ages 8–18 and adults in their community learn how to use cutting-edge technologies to solve real-world problems. It also partners with leading organizations like UNESCO and UN Women, and with mentors from companies like Google, NVIDIA and Adobe to reach children and families in more than 100 countries.
“It’s a program that empowers young girls to become tech leaders, creators and innovators and problem solvers. So, what we offer is a program where they learn how to leverage technology to solve a problem in their community.” Jecrois explains to the CONTACT.
Jecrois is also an example of the multiple opportunities that exist for women in STEM. She remains passionate about community building and Technovation Montreal was just another outlet for her to help young girls.
“I really love the fact that this program would give an opportunity for young girls to explore different faculties,” she says, “they not only learn technological skills, but they learn how to use technology to build something to create something to help others.”
The program is a five-month after school program. The classes are usually held at one of their partner organisations but this year due to the pandemic, the classes have been online. Together with their mentors the girls developed their start-ups and created their mobile app projects which address an issue or need in their community related to the themes inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as health, education, environment, and equality.
“The girls get to see themselves not just as consumers of technology but creators that can make a positive impact in their community using technology
On the May 15, Technovation Montreal invited the public to attend Demo Day where this year’s teams pitched their apps to a jury of entrepreneurs and IT experts. The jury chose four winners in the categories of First Prize Seniors, First Prize Juniors, Jury Award, and Jury Technology Award.
The projects covered a multitude of global themes, with the winners focusing on endangered species, menstrual health, mental wellbeing, and the environment.
The winners of the First Prize Juniors were Kawaii Chan Girls’ who created Planet Pets, an app that educates kids on endangered species in a fun way via games, daily quizzes, and challenges to keep virtual pets alive. Kids can take selfies with their pets and care for them through entertaining interactive functionalities.
The winners of the First Prize Seniors were Quintessence Quintet’s who came up with Womensture. Comprised of five idealistic girls from different corners of the globe who wanted to spread awareness on and eliminate stigmas/taboos of menstrual health in Nigeria.
Helping young girls keep track of their menstrual hygiene management, the app provides easily accessible resources and educational tools to improve their quality of life. It also aims to provide support to those in need by offering free menstrual products through crowdfunding initiatives.
The Jury Award in the senior category went to an app Focused on Health & Wellness known as SparKL’s UBored? It is aimed at decreasing depressive symptoms through hobbies by generating daily challenges that motivate users to complete goals and obtain points to unlock new challenges and to share their achievements on their feeds. Each activity is designed by professionals in areas such as fitness, art, and education.
And the Jury technology award was given to Mobius’ SPECTRUM an educational adventure mobile game that raises awareness on environmental impacts through easy-to-learn info while inciting users to think ethically about their actions.
The storyline depicts a world overcome by the effects of climate change linked to consumerism, such as digital pollution or fast fashion, in an environment where players are eager to unravel SPECTRUM’s dystopia with a friendly robot sidekick.
In addition, 24 local teams have submitted their apps to an international jury as part of the selection process for the Technovation World Summit, which will take place on August 12 & 13.
To learn more about Technovation Montréal : https://www.technovationmontreal.com/