By Jennifer Arguello (Product Manager, Mozilla & Mentor, Technovation Challenge) Are your successes in life due to other people helping you? Do you wish you had more role models growing up to show you what you know now? Would you like to inspire the next generation of female high-tech leaders?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you should consider becoming a Technovation Challenge mentor.
The mission of the Technovation Challenge is to promote women in technology by giving girls the skills and confidence they need to be successful in computer science and entrepreneurship. The program aims to inspire girls to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders and entrepreneurs.
A team is composed of a small group of high school girls, a female mentor in high-tech, and a female undergraduate Computer Science student. The girls not only learn fundamental concepts of computer science, but they learn the process of product development by developing a mobile app using App Inventor for Android.
All these new skills are put to the test at the end of the challenge when the girls pitch their idea to a panel of venture capitalists. This program is not a simulation of real life; it is a real life experience that could end in the app being professionally developed and distributed on the Android Market.
Last year about this time, I read about the Technovation Challenge application on the Women 2.0 website. I became a mentor in San Francisco. The program was very well executed. The lecturer and the guest speakers were top notch and the high school girls were like sponges, soaking up the information every week. My team decided to build a shoe-shopping app based off of taking a picture of a shoe you like.
This team went from being a very quiet and reserved group of strangers to a confident and knowledgeable team. Their poise and delivery at the pitch night was amazing to see. The Technovation Challenge changes lives, and not just the lives of the girls but of everyone involved. Most of the time I thought I was learning more than the girls. I think they inspired me more than I inspired them!
If this sounds interesting to you, please read more about the program here. Also, spread the word to other women in technology. There are plenty of ripe high school minds waiting for more mentors to join the program in 2012.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Jennifer Arguello is a Product Manager at Mozilla. She is a Co-Founder of Latino Startup Alliance, a community of Latino tech entrepreneurs. She also serves on the national board of directors for the largest organization of Latinos in STEM in the United States, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Jennifer holds a BS in Computer Science from UC San Diego. Follow her on Twitter at @engijen.