Tech Needs Girls

I designed a STEM mentorship program for girls in Ghana to learn how to code and find female mentors in the field.

When:
September - December 2014
What:
PROGRAM MANAGER, Designer

Background:

I was one of 16 Googlers worldwide selected for GoogleReach, a leadership development and consulting program where Googlers work with small businesses and NGOs to address global humanitarian challenges in local communities and emerging markets. I was in Accra, Ghana, where I worked with Soronko Solutions to develop Tech Needs Girls, a program that would provide STEM education and mentoring for 1,500 underprivileged girls (aged 6-18) in 5 different regions in Ghana and raise awareness of female involvement in technology.

As a woman involved in STEM fields in both education and work and passionate about increasing the access of education and technology, the project made my heart skip a beat. Sure, creating a scalable program with that much impact is daunting, but getting girls involved in STEM is a topic that I’m passionate about and one absolutely worth addressing.

Final Product:

My two coworkers and I created a program called Tech Needs Girls, which is a community-based extracurricular, with mentors reaching out to students beyond their university. As the designer of the project, I created all the visual materials of the Tech Needs Girls campaign, including informational packets, brochures, posters, certificates, T-shirt designs, and mentorship packets. Moreover, the program model is designed as a “toolkit” with all the materials for mentors.


ABOVE: A certificate for mentors in the program
ABOVE: Mentors of Tech Needs Girls in Burkina Faso proudly display their certificates as part of their completion of the program
BELOW: BROCHURE FOR TECH NEEDS GIRLS
BELOW: PAMPHLET FOR PARTICIPANTS
BELOW: LOGO FOR TECH NEEDS GIRLS

Process:


Above: The product of an entire day of brainstorming: what does success look like?
I worked with two other Googlers: Samantha Zorn and Camila Borda, as we hopped on conference calls with Regina Honu, the CEO of Soronko Solutions, an Accra-based software development company to assess the needs of a mentorship program and learn more about Regina’s vision. We spent a month defining the scope of the problem, starting with a picture of what success looks like.

  1. Increase the numbers of mentors: Target female university students in STEM fields for a 6 month (semester-long) commitment, with 10+ mentors at each university
  2. Create awareness campaigns to increase the appeal of technology:
    1. Lead Generation Campaign: Campaign for mentors
    2. Awareness Campaign: Campaign to raise awareness in the community on the mission of Tech Needs Girls and the importance of technology. Targeted towards possible mentees (high school female students) and parents.
  3. Create a structured mentorship program for Soronko to implement and scale easily
Samantha, Camila, Regina, and I were in Accra for an entire month, where we conducted research on girls from the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, girls from local universities like Ashesi University, and girls in the slums of Nima, and we noticed the following while shadowing their classes and conducting user studies:
Differences in education demographics How do you scale and bridge differences between exposure in education? How do you create effective mentors who bridge those differences?
Having a platform is motivatingWe prototyped different lessons to girls, starting with basic HTML/CSS coding sessions. There was more engagement and participation when the coding projects involved web publishing and social media.
Creating a community is key In our user studies, none of the girls reported any organized STEM extracurricular where girls were actively involved, yet all of them expressed interest in such an extracurricular if it did exist.

What’s next?

The program was launched in January 2015, the start of most college semesters in Ghana. Since the launch, Tech Needs Girls has expanded to 2,000+ girls (over 500 from our original goal of 1,500!) and has expanded past Ghana into Burkina Faso, where Soronko has partnered with TuaRes and adopted the program model for GirlTech

Other collaborators: Samantha Zorn (Google / Strategic Partner Developer), Camila Borda (google / Sales Executive), Regina Agyare (Soronko Solutions / CEO)