I would like to thank everyone for their well wishes for my daughter. She is feeling a lot better. I wanted to write about diversity and women in technology. I have always felt that it is good to bring diverse group of people into technology. I learnt this while I was recruited into Ernst & Young, where it did not matter what your background was or your gender they took you in and trained you to become a world class professional. I think that is the best way to build a team. If you are looking for the perfect candidate you are probably not going to get her or it is going to take a long time. The best approach is to see who has the right attitude, has the aptitude to learn and is open minded in contributing. Bring them onboard, give them the space, tools and training to learn. That IMHO, is the best way to build a world class team.
I was really excited to see the /sys/tur student group in 2013, it is a clever use of words. If you say it out loud it sounds like “Sister”. Here is a brief about /sys/tur, I have requested this group to host and run the Startup Iceland Hackathon and they have agreed to do that.
/sys/tur is an organization for women in Computer Science at Reykjavik University. It was founded in the fall of 2013 by Áslaug Eiríksdóttir, Elísabet Guðrúnar- og Jónsdóttir, Helga Guðmundsdóttir and Ingibjörg Ósk Jónsdóttir. The goal is to increase women’s self-esteem and pride and create an all-female environment where girls can leave their insecurities at the door and really dig in to techy stuff that they are shy to engage in a mixed environment.
We want to see more female role models in CS and make girls more visible in the world of computer science and related fields. We want to see more women become TA’s in programming classes, have more women participate in programming competitions and encourage them to get an MA degree.
We believe that one way to achieve this is to encourage women during their studies and have very visible role models take part in our /sys/tur’s events that are held every other week.
/sys/tur have now participated in the conference, UT messa, twice. In 2014 we showed several projects with Raspberry Pi, like Super Nintendo Pi and a tor project. We also found an old box of legos in the university and created the robot Krúttmundur. He was really popular and the kids got to program the robot and see him sing and dance by their orders.
In 2015, /sys/tur went on a different path and showed the conference guests the computer’s hardware. We opened up laptops, desktop computers, keyboards and a computer mouse. All guests from the age of 15-25 had a chance to participate in a competition in putting a desktop computer together and over 30 people signed up. Four people, two girls and two guys, competed for the price of a computer repair class at Promennt. The contest was a great success and the plan is to have it every year at the UT messa.
/sys/tur has also worked really hard on reaching out to the younger generation. Along with RU and couple of tech companies, /sys/tur organised the first Girls in ICT Day in Iceland and held a web programming workshop. During the code week, /sys/tur had a coding session with high school girls where we taught them the basics of programming. /sys/tur created and taught all of the material.
All the girls were extremely excited and learned a great amount of material over one evening.
Since /sys/tur were founded, the ratio of girls in the freshmen year have gone from 18% up to 23%. We hope this number will continue to rise over the next years.
With a group like this, I know for a fact that there will be more women who will get into technology in the future in Iceland and I am excited to get them involved in Startup Iceland.