The Teen-Turn programme addresses—in addition to gender equality in the workplace—economic inclusion for girls from areas where higher education is uncommon by providing hands-on practical experience and mentorship in technology work environments.
Teen-Turn’s intervention is innovative, with past participants reporting the work placements led to them feeling as though they could ‘fit in’ a technology career environment. Although this change of perspective is seemingly small, the central finding of research into students’ attitudes towards studying STEM by Amárach and SFI indicates that “fitting in” outweighs all other factors—course prospects, parent and teacher guidance—in terms of influence.
Co-Founder Joanne Dolan offers:
More girls from disadvantaged areas gaining an interest in technology career environments through Teen-Turn sets into motion a large scale “opening of minds” that will eventually result in the uptake of courses, qualifications and job acquisition and change the way these neighbouring companies and communities view/interact with one another.
Now a national programme with over 30 companies participating, Teen-Turn empowers DEIS schools to identify candidates for the work placements, enlisting advocates within the school who are invested the participants' progress from Junior Cert to job or university. Each girl is then assigned a female mentor, who is working in technology at the host company, to provide supervision, support and an inspiring example of a woman with a role in technology. Participants, who have completed 3rd year, blog to better process and share their experiences.
The TeenTurn model also operates in partnership with Hays Recruiting to achieve intended impact. Hays provides introductions to companies and this has been leveraged to scale nationally and will, in 2018, expand internationally.
James Milligan, Director of Hays IT in Ireland, says:
Hays IT is delighted to be part of the Teen-Turn programme, which we see as a perfect way to address diversity in the workplace as part of a broader corporate social responsibility initiative. There is currently a severe shortage of IT professionals and encouraging girls to consider technology as a third level qualification and a career choice is vital to the industry's future success. This programme helps to address gender inequality in the technology sector and it also gives participants the chance to work with some of Ireland, and the world's, most successful organisations.