Girls! Choose IT and dare to dream big!

With only a small percentage of Polish women choosing to study IT at university, how does an organization such as Capgemini attract young female talent, and resolve inclusion and diversity issues? Capgemini Poland’s IT Girls rEvolution Academy aims to educate for change.

Research by the University of Silesia[1] shows that only 15% of Polish girls study IT at university and only a modest number of women end up choosing it as a career. In addition, Polish women sometimes underestimate their own competencies, which can prevent them going for technical roles or a career in IT.

In February 2019, following the launch of the 8th edition of our “We Invest in Good Ideas” – Capgemini Poland’s Grant Program for employees – over 30 people across various Capgemini business units, teams, and locations joined forces to try to change all that – coming up with the concept of the IT Girls rEvolution Academy, or “ITGrA” as we often refer to it.

The aim of the project was to help female high school students discover their hidden potential within the field of tech and IT, give them a wider perspective and choice, and help them understand that IT is an excellent career option, regardless of stereotypes. The project involved 64 students from eight local high schools in seven cities in the Silesia region of southern Poland. It also involved 22 trainers and 35 Capgemini volunteers from Katowice and Krakow, as well as teachers from the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Silesia, and business partners from local companies.

The IT Girls rEvolution Academy was launched in October 2019 with comprehensive training in business consulting and project management conducted by Capgemini’s Business Services employees, workshops run by Capgemini’s Cloud Infrastructure Services employees in programing and testing, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and the Internet of Things (IoT), and practical coaching focused on building soft skills and teamwork run mainly by Capgemini’s Learning & Development team. Most of the training was held at Capgemini’s offices in Katowice, with all computer classes held at the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Silesia.

Split across four weekends full of practical workshops and 40 hours of training, our female students were able to explore their natural technical, mental, and social talent, and transform them into practical, digital skills such as coding. The academy introduced four steps to help polish these skills:

  • DARE – to communicate ideas, contribute to the team, and engage in talks and actions
  • DEFINE – product vision and project scope within the project’s business requirements
  • DESIGN – the best quality technical solutions fitting business needs
  • DELIVER – on time and beyond expectations.

The IT workshops were topped off with an “IT Diamonds” competition at the University of Silesia in November 2019, with prizes that included programming courses and vouchers for school IT equipment. The competition helped the students learn how to successfully deliver an end-to-end IT project within a business model through the use of excellent teamwork. The competition was accompanied by numerous lectures conducted by our project business partners, where the students learned more about the opportunities offered by the development of IT, the profession of a programmer, JavaScript language, and much more.

And the results? The IT Girls rEvolution Academy has shown how we can make an impact and create a change. Our students have gone away with some amazing discoveries and insights about both IT and themselves as individuals. We hope that the IT Girls rEvolution Academy will continue and become a flagship project of the Women@Capgemini community in Poland, where the idea for IT workshops for girls first started.

Magdalena Katolik manages public relations and website content for Capgemini Poland She is a co-organizer of the IT Girls rEvolution Academy and leads its marketing and communication strategy.

TESTIMONIALS:

“The IT Girls rEvolution Academy helped me to decide whether I would like to work in IT – and the answer is yes! I’ve learned that the world of IT is not only about programming but also the Internet of Things, AI, and or testing, where everyone can specialize. I’ve also have gained soft skills that I would not have gained without participating in these workshops.
– Amelia, High school student and participant of ITGrA

“I’ve learnt about what project management looks like and the phases of each IT project. Participating in the workshops also helped me discover myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and what I’m good at. I am very happy that I was able to participate in the IT Girls rEvolution Academy and that I was able to gain so much knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained at school.”
– Zuzanna, High school student and participant of ITGrA

“I decided to act locally and promote the IT industry among female Silesian high school students, as I had been talking about IT development opportunities for a long time. The commitment of our project team is enormous, and engage great people, thanks to whom the project is destined for success.”
– Magdalena Rucinska, Project Manager Capgemini, and Project Lead at ITGrA, Capgemini Poland

“The IT Girls rEvolution Academy implemented by Capgemini Poland is an excellent example of how the university, the business environment, and high school students can work together to successfully achieve a common goal. To sum up, IT is worth studying, it is worth choosing technical faculties. We hope that the project will be continued in the years to come and the number of girls among our students will increase.”
– Katarzyna Trynda, Doctor at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Silesia

“99% of pupils at our technical school are boys. The IT Girls rEvolution Academy project proves that IT is not only a male industry, but also makes us aware of the many opportunities for development and employment, and how diverse this industry could be.”
– Barbara Niemiec-Falkus, High school teacher at ITGrA

“At Capgemini, the students learned how to work as a team, they realized what it looks like to work in a large organization, and realized that a friendly atmosphere is imperative for achieving good results. The IT Girls rEvolution Academy has given our girls an unforgettable experience.”
– Magdalena Graca, High school teacher at ITGrA

“It is very important to increase young women’s awareness of IT. As a mentor on the IT Girls rEvolution Academy, I stressed IT is something they can be just as good as men, and gender is meaningless. I tried to show them how the knowledge they have learnt can be used in practice in their future day-to-day work.”
– Monika Goly, Service Delivery Manager at Capgemini and mentor at ITGrA, Capgemini Poland

“The IT Girls rEvolution Academy taught me that my experience is something valuable that I can share with the younger generation. It’s very nice to be seen as a role model. I am convinced that at least some of the participants will be more interested in this subject and will want to continue their adventure.”
– Joanna Selwa, Transformation Project Lead at Capgemini and trainer at ITGrA, Capgemini Poland

“The IT Girls rEvolution Academy has enabled the world of IT to show its human face – one which they may have been afraid of previously. The students learned that it is indeed possible to combine work with fun. The very fact of awakening curiosity has given these students an incredible opportunity to start a career in IT.”
– Tomasz Cieslar, Tools Development Capability Manager at Capgemini and trainer at ITGrA, Capgemini Poland

[1] Unpublished research carried out by Katarzyna Trynda, Doctor at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Silesia.