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Bringing girl power to IT

A scheme to encourage Polish schoolgirls to enter IT

After training as an accountant, Monika Goly developed a taste for tech and is now volunteering to inspire others with Capgemini’s ITGra scheme. She talks us through her rewarding journey.

How would you describe working in tech? Daunting… confusing… mysterious?

According to Monika Goly, business transformation manager working at Capgemini in Katowice, many young girls in Poland view the technology sector in exactly these terms. “We wanted to change these sentiments and help close the gender gap in the IT workforce,” says Monika. “That’s why we started the IT Girls Revolution Academy.”

But just one question: how can you change people’s opinion towards IT, when you don’t have a background in the subject area? 

Broadening personal horizons  

Monika started her career with Capgemini 16 years ago, working as an accountant in the general ledger. More recently, she moved into the role of business transformation consultant, supporting clients to improve their businesses in the area of shared services.

A few years ago, Monika found herself drawn towards the idea of volunteering – an activity that many Capgemini colleagues participate in. Capgemini’s flagship volunteering program is Impact Together Month, when colleagues come together and contribute towards causes that help shape positive futures. In October 2022, the program engaged more than 11,000 colleagues across 27 countries, supporting 220 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and impacting the lives of 22,600 individuals.

Monika decided to join the Women@Capgemini group. Open to all genders, the employee network group connects and empowers women across Capgemini to realize their full potential.

“I’m part of the Business Services team, but in that group I met lots of fascinating people from different business units, and quickly realized what could be achieved when we work together for a good purpose,” she says.

What really caught her imagination, however, was a suggestion by the community leader about starting an initiative to help young women enter the world of IT, capitalizing on the annual Capgemini grant program in Poland.

A journey of discovery

Although Monika did not have a background in IT, this was, arguably, the perfect position from which to help organize such a scheme. “I’ve really enjoyed my career with Capgemini, but I’d be the first to admit that I’m not a techie,” she says. “So, in some respects, IT was something of a mystery to me, too. This actually helped me to understand the perspectives of young people who found the subject confusing.”

What emerged from this spark of inspiration was the IT Girls Revolution Academy (ITGra) in 2019. Run solely by Capgemini volunteers, the academy offers IT coaching and mentoring to schoolgirls and young women in Poland. The scheme is currently in its fourth year, and now operates in all of the eight cities in Poland where Capgemini has offices.

On a practical level, Monika was able to use her excellent administrative and organizational skills to make a material difference. “Initially, I wondered how I could contribute. But I soon managed to find my place. I particularly love organizing – it’s something I find really satisfying – and I’ve been able to offer this to the scheme, as well as acting as a mentor for the young ladies.”

IT diamonds are forever 

“There are two main stages to the scheme,” explains Monika. “First, the students attend training seminars run by Capgemini volunteers, which cover a range of IT topics on everything from project management and presentation skills, to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.”

The second stage of the program is a competition called “IT Diamonds.” “This is a tech project simulation in which the students use the knowledge they’ve gained in the seminars to respond to a ‘client brief,’ such as a request to build a new website,” says Monika.
In the current phase, 100 participants from 13 schools are involved in the program, and Monika hopes to expand the initiative as Capgemini grows within Poland, and possibly even to other countries.

Daring girls to dream big

For Monika, the ITGra initiative has a number of important goals. “Fundamentally, we want to encourage more young women to join the IT sector and close the gender gap in the IT workforce. Although perceptions about the industry are certainly changing for the better, there is still a strong bias towards men. This program aims to demystify IT to make it less intimidating, and to introduce girls to professional women who have successful careers in the industry, who act as mentors and role models.”

So far, Monika and her colleagues have received excellent feedback from the participants and the schools involved. “The teachers we’ve spoken to always want us to come back because they see how the girls benefit from the scheme, in terms of their confidence and their understanding of the workplace,” she says.

Rewarding and inspiring  

According to Monika, volunteering has been a great opportunity to challenge herself and develop her own skills. “I would really encourage everyone to consider volunteering because it’s very rewarding to give something back. Also, it offers a safe environment for you to practice being a teacher or a mentor.”

In Monika’s opinion, this project closely aligns with Capgemini’s organizational values, for example, by encouraging young girls to be bold in choosing a future in IT, and giving them more freedom to determine their own careers. A pretty impressive outcome for someone who doesn’t have a background in technology. As Monika concludes: “My journey with ITGra has highlighted the fact that, at Capgemini, there’s always a space for doing something extraordinary.”

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