Sparked with the idea of connecting girls and technology, a group of Prep students approached SHS Director of Technology Dr. Joy Lopez in the spring of 2016 with the basic blueprint of the now thriving Girl Tech club.
With support and oversight from Tech faculty and led by students Emma Connors (SHP ’18) and Sabrina Nunn (SHP ’17), the club set out to empower SHP girls to create, design, and innovate in an inviting space without fear of judgement or failure. Three years later, the club is still going strong, led by students Grace Connors (SHP ’19) and Lauren-Elize Roque (SHP ’20).
“This club allows our students to explore all areas of technology, work with and hear from women in the industry, and break the stereotype of a ‘tech geek,’” said Lopez.
A dedicated space in the Main Building, dubbed the Girl Tech Studio, and regularly scheduled time in the Creative Inquiry Lab, have allowed the girls to explore a variety of technologies, including laser printing, 3D printing, bioprinting, e-textiles, and circuitry. The group hosts a monthly lunchtime speaker series featuring women working in all facets of the technology industry. Speakers this school year have presented on such subjects as cryptocurrency, Artful Design, banking, and the power of women in the workforce.
“The speakers range from business leaders, civil engineers and graphic artists, and more, and have served as inspirational role models for the girls,” said Lopez. “More importantly, they have showed the breadth and depth of the technology industry.”
Discussions and insights on the impact of the #metoo movement and the “techbro” culture were the theme of a documentary screening of “She Started It” hosted by Girl Tech last year. The screening was followed by a panel of women entrepreneurs who shared their experiences working in Silicon Valley. The audience included students, parents, and teachers from SHS, Castilleja, and Menlo, to name a few.
“She Started It” is a behind-the-scenes documentary film about women tech entrepreneurs. Panelists Gillian Morris, co-founder and CEO of the travel app Hitlist, Daphne Carmeli, co-founder and CEO of Deliv, a same-day delivery service, and SHS Alumni Association Board member Jen O’Neal (SJS `93, SHP ‘97) answered questions about their journeys as entrepreneurs, and shared stories related to the film. They provided insight into what young women can do to pursue their dream career, including the importance of mentors—both women and men.
The evening was an extension of the work the Girl Tech club does at SHP. Each month, the Girl Tech club offers opportunities for young women to work on innovative and creative projects, and develop leadership skills.
Three of the Girl Tech women were invited to speak at the Lead Like a Girl conference held at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart in April 2018. Jacqueline Chin (SHP '21) spoke about The Wonders of Virtual Reality; and sisters, Emma (SHP '18) and Grace (SHP '19) Connors spoke about how they started the Girl Tech club at SHP.
Locally on the SHS campus, the group has also partnered with the Sophie’s Scholars program to lead Saturday workshops focused on coding, robotics, and leadership skill building through Girls Driving for a Difference.
Girl Tech will host a 30-minute workshop for their peers at the annual Social Justice Teach-In event at SHP. The topic is social media and how it impacts people’s lives both positively and negatively.
“These opportunities have empowered our Sacred Heart girls to take center stage in helping other students learn about technology,” said Lopez.
SHP Girl Tech is already planning next year’s speaker series, researching possible tech company field trips, finding female mentors, and looking for new social impact projects both locally and globally. For more information, or to offer your assistance, please contact Dr. Joy Lopez at jlopez[@[shschools.org.