Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen has an over-active brain, which she balances with 3-4 hot yoga classes each week. Spending quality time with friends, either cooking up a feast or traveling to amazing places around the world, are some of her favourite ways to spend time.
This all helps to balance her very busy life, which includes running 2 businesses and being a CEO, Director, Editor, Author, and the list goes on. Jenine is an authority in I.T. and an advocate for diversity.
With a PhD in IT and degrees in business and information technology, Jenine was one of the few girls in her degree and has taught I.T. at universities for the last 15 years, where she has seen very few women come through the course. The women who do, provide further motivation for Jenine, as they do really well and are much needed to provide more representation of diversity in our Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) industries.
Jenine’s background is also in research and she has studied gender and technology for the last 15 years to understand why girls are under-represented in these careers and what it takes for a women to succeed in this industry.
This unusual background of I.T. and research puts Jenine in a unique position to put the research into practice through the Tech Girls Movement. In the last year alone they have experienced 400% growth in their program, because it actually works based on the evidence.
Doctor Jenine aka Jewella is a superhero character and is inspiring the next generation of technology leaders!
“Be your authentic self and hone in on your superpower.”
So what is Tech Girls Movement?
The Tech Girls Movement Foundation (TGM) is a not for profit organization based in Australia. Their signature campaign called ‘Tech Girls are Superheroes’ profiles real life women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as Superheroe characters who change the world everyday with technology.
The TGM implement this in a number of ways. Free books are distributed to school girls across Australia. They also showcase women in STEM as role models and match women working in STEM (mentors) with teams of girls in our competition. It is diversity and inclusion through a storytelling approach to inspire girls as young as 5 to come and join us working in STEM.
With our free books we’ve distributed 65 000 books in the last 8 years free to school girls and we run a national competition called ‘The Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero’. This year is our 4th year and we are expecting more than 2500 girls to compete in every state and territory and we are also launching in New Zealand this year.
Our 12 week STEM entrepreneurship program encourages girls to join in teams, we match each team of school girlsl between 7-17 years old with a female mentor from the tech industry to help solve a problem in their local community and help them build an app and do a pitch and build a business plan to showcase their ideas.
What was the catalyst Tech Girls Movement?
The industry is in such need for a qualified talent pool. Currently there is no sustainable pipeline to fill that. It is costing all countries billions of dollars each year in opportunity costs. Industry wants to hire people, they also want to hire women but the skilled workforce simply isn’t there. Our solution is to inspire girls, empowering them to have hands on technical skills and business knowledge. We also provide an understanding of social problems, together with an entrepreneurship program to help them gain confidence and realise their potential
What has made you so passionate about getting girls into STEM?
From the time I was studying my degree there were very few other women and I saw there was a need for change. Information Technology underpins every aspect of our lives and if we haven’t engaged our girls in I.T. then businesses and the world are missing out on better technology for society.
So what’s next?
We are always looking for mentors to join or to sign up a team of girls to participate in this year’s Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero. As a mentor, you need passion for STEM and interest in helping a team of girls for 1-2 hours over 12 weeks from May. Mentors don’t need to know how to build an app. If you or anyone you know are interested then register here.
You now have your business, engaging with a corporate sponsors, mentors, schools and girls, what was your biggest challenge to get this far?
The biggest challenge is sourcing ongoing sustainable funding. We are always looking for more organisations to partner with.
Who was your biggest support?
I’ve had tremendous support from our partner companies, our featured superheroes and from our internal TGM team and Board. It’s been hard work but it’s extremely rewarding.
What advice would you give to other women facing major life events or choices?
#beboldforchance is this year’s theme for #iwd2017. My advice, “Be your authentic self and hone in on your superpower.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
I love this question because after all, I’m running this program because I wish I had access to it as a child. My advice, “You just have to ask. What’s the worst that may happen, they say no? What if they say yes!”