A collective of female graduates and professionals are hosting a ‘Girls in Tech Game Jam’ in Llantrisant this weekend with the aim of attracting more girls from Rhondda and the surrounding valleys into the tech space in Wales.
Game Jams are typically ‘hackathon’ style events where a collective of people come together to plan, design and create video games or online tools. Hosts Webfibre and Stronger Rhondda have co-hosted similar events in the past, but this is the first of its kind run by an all-female team of coders, data scientists and developers employed in the tech industry here in Wales.
Despite more than 64% of girls studying STEM subjects in school and 27% of girls hoping for a career in the tech industry, women make up just 10% of executive positions in the industry (Cleversim 2019).
Emily Davies from Beddau, RCT is one of the Girls in Tech Weekend leaders and facilitators. She graduated with a 1st class hons degree in Mathematics from Cardiff University and works as a data scientist with Welsh company Yard Digital.
She says she is keen for more girls to consider a career in STEM and will be working with Game Jam participant groups on practical, hands on exercises throughout the weekend designed to give them a taste of the many different fields within tech – from design and data analysis to artificial intelligence.
Emily says she was surprised to find that her team of data analysts at Yard are in fact all female. Specialising in content, search, data and innovation, Yard’s clients include Sainsbury’s, JP Morgan, B&Q and Nivea.
Speaking of her experience entering the industry for the first time after graduating, Emily commented:
“Things are improving all the time, but more needs to be done. We need to inspire and encourage girls at school to maintain their interest in STEM and create more momentum to push them towards tech careers. It’s an evolving and fascinating field of work but teams need more representation from women who can bring a whole new voice and perspective to the industry…”
Girls In Tech Weekend co-host Lyndsey Browning (originally from Clydach Vale in the Rhondda) now works as a Product Technical Lead for Vizolution in Swansea after previously working as a junior and mid-developer.
“I’m really excited to meet our Game Jam participants, you don’t have to have your whole career mapped out at all. If you have a passing interest in how online sites are created, enjoy playing video games or ever wondered how on earth website cookies work, then I think you’ll enjoy the Weekend. Bring your curiosity – and we’ll take care of the rest!”
Also on board the Game Jam team are Junior Data Scientist Beth from Yard Digital who is a software engineering graduate. She switched over to Software Engineering after learning about Python (a coding language) on her degree.
Juliet, a Senior Test Analyst with Vizolution, took an alternative route into the industry and entered the field after attending a gaming event where she met the CEO of a gaming company.
The Game Jam is a collaboration between People and Work, Stronger Rhondda Gryfach and Webfibre and girls age 16-24 can still apply for a spot on the Weekend. The event is free and refreshments, lunch and travel expenses are provided thanks to the project partners and funding from the Moondance Foundation.