This morning I spoke at the Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria event about e-health and bioinformatics. Some interesting discussions ensued about how we get school-aged individuals, especially women, interested in doing IT. IT teachers raised a few issues they think are preventing this:
- Parents remember the dot com crash and tell kids that they won't get a job in IT
- Parents think because their children teach them how to use Facebook and Smartphones that they already know all they need to about computers
- Girls think IT is just men in basements with neckbeards coding
How do we address these?
We need to advertise IT better. It's not just men in basements coding, and there are more IT jobs now then there were at the height of the dot com boom.
We also need to make people understand the difference between consuming IT (knowing how to use Facebook) and working in IT (Computer science, software engineers, programmers, UI designers, UXers etc. etc.). People who know what their blood pressure means (i.e. informed consumers) do not think they don't need to go into medicals degrees, and we need to get this message across. Being a good consumers is not the same as being literate in the subject. Foodies aren't chefs. So why is someone who knows how to use a smartphone 'good at IT'?
We need to promote what we do more, and who we are, to raise awareness and get more people interested in IT. Everyone knows what a nurse does, or a doctor does so kids are interested in those careers. We need people to understand what jobs they can get, and what kind of work they'll be doing in IT to improve enrolment.