Launching a new initiative - g4g goes to work with Cisco!

What can we do to encourage more girls to enter the world of Information and Communication Technology? Girls should be able to experience the IT world first hand, in an interactive work environment – to be able to see, touch, hear and be inspired by the possibilities their future holds – and it all begins at an early age.

On April 1st 2015, 34 greenlight girls aged 10-15 joined Cisco and g4g in pioneering an amazing initiative we’re calling “g4g@work”. Around 25 Cisco employees took time out of their busy IT schedules to offer their expertise for an afternoon of skill-building. At the end of the day, upon completion, the girls became “Cisco Certified Future Engineers” as the General Manager of Cisco Belux, Pol Vanbiervliet, personally handed out certificates to each girl!

The aim of g4g@work is to offer hands on training with interactive and fun workshop at the company. The girls get to work with role-model professionals in the field and are offered personalized attention throughout the sessions so that they may experience the workplace and therefore visualize for themselves what it means to work with technology and innovation.

The day began like any other g4g Day… the girls took over Cisco’s Diegem offices as they personalised & decorated their brand new labcoats! It was followed by a welcome speech from Jaana Kajanmaa, Cisco’s Sr Director of Technical Services, and from there the girls were on their way to experience the workshops:

- An “Hour of Code”: Here the Cisco workshop leaders got creative in developing a lesson plan that demonstrated to the girls what means to code with interactive visuals, followed by individual skill-building with yep…FROZEN! To wrap up, the girls worked at solving a coding puzzle as a group. What a success!

- Teleprescence Technology: The girls experienced Cisco’s telepresence conference room where they got to talk to the Cisco teams in Krakow, UK, Kortrijk and Raleigh, North Carolina! Human networking and bringing people together all over the world via technology is Cisco’s goal… one girl says it well, “I've understood now that technology is the future!”

- Electronics & programming: Using Scratch, Arduino electronics, resistors and LEDs, the girls succeeded at creating and programming their own traffic lights – we dare say this was their favourite ;-).  

- Cisco TAC Lab Tour: Finally, the girls went through the amazing maze of Cisco gear to see the complex network that represents their technology! Impressive!

And finally, here’s what the girls have to say about the event:

“The event opened my eyes to all the things you can do with ICT!”

“It was more hands on that just someone telling you what it is”

“I did things that I didn't even know were possible”

“I was really interested in ICT before but now I could consider it as a really interesting choice of studies”

"I really enjoyed this event and now I understand what people do at Cisco and how fun ICT is. Now I have some experience."

Most interestingly, when we asked - what they would tell other girls to spark an interest in ICT – here’s how they replied:

“Just try and you will like it. Trust me, it's fun stuff”

“Technology has so many secrets you can learn”

“I'd tell them about my day”

“You use computers, phones, etc. all of the time, but how many people know what is the idea behind all that?”

“Without it there would be no social media, no television, no internet and no downloadable music!”

“I think everyone should consider it and it's nonsense that ICT is only for boys. ICT is the technology that will be essential in the future so better start learning now”

So what made this event a success? We think it has something to do with the dynamic Cisco Team - the girls commented on how inspired they were by their knowledge and passion, all the while making it fun and interesting! When asked who inspired you, one girls’ response was, “all the women who explained things to us, showed us around and helped us - basically the ones who work at Cisco! They were really smart and many more than I thought!”

Furthermore, there is always that one person who inspires us all – the one who comes to us with an idea, plants a seed and follows through every step of the way. Aurelia Takacs, g4g’s Cisco global point of contact, lead the team in this great initiative. Aurelia is also on g4g’s Advisory Board for corporate sponsorships and Diversity & Inclusion programs; she is the project leader for g4g’s initiatives in Amman, Jordan and launching Krakow, Poland this year! On her “spare time” away from g4g, Aurelia is a proud mom and full-time Global Delivery Partner Manager at Cisco. She sets an example for all women to follow and we couldn’t be more lucky and grateful to have her as part of our team!

A few words from Aurelia:

 “I’m blessed and grateful to be part of two amazing organizations, both genuinely interested in building the next generation of female engineers, programmers and leaders in ICT – Cisco and Greenlight for Girls.  I’m also extremely lucky to be able to combine my passion and drive at both the professional and personal level by organizing these amazing events for our g4g girls around the world and to share with them how fun and exciting STEM-related studies and careers can be, hopefully inspiring a few of them down the road!  The curiosity and excitement of the girls, the genuine passion of our volunteers, and the vision of greenlight for girls are what makes these events a huge and fulfilling success, and I’m looking forward to collaborating more and more with g4g and Cisco around the globe!”

Technology dominates our modern everyday life, and even though girls are outperforming boys in science and math subjects in many schools, less than 10% of girls at age 15 are interested in ICT and only 20% of the ICT workforce are women. To tackle this worldwide gap, greenlight for girls is known for engaging and capturing the attention of girls and an early age. We aim to help girls all over the world realize the scope of possibilities in front of them. We inspire girls to uncover their own potential and demonstrate just how fun and rewarding the world of science and technology is!