Skool Makes Technology Attractive for Girls in Hungary

Photo: Péter Guzsaly, Unicorn Whisperer, Szilvi Koleszár, Co-founder and CEO, Nataly Duyko, PR Manager, and Rita Helli, Information Engineer. Photo credit: Tamás Kovacs.

Encouraging girls to choose technology as a possible career – this is the vision of the Skool project, the initiative started by the Technology in Education Foundation, Hungary, Budapest. We have gotten a chance to meet the co-founder of the project and CEO Szilvi Koleszár, and Péter Guzsaly, Unicorn Whisperer. 

The idea of a project that would encourage girls to choose a technology career came to Szilvi Koleszár during her research time in the US back in 2014.

“Before receiving a US research grant, I have been working with HR and Employer Branding at one of the biggest software development companies in Hungary. I knew how hard it was to find female IT specialists. During my research in the US, I studied how to engage kids into technology, and I could see several initiatives that were way ahead of us in Western Europe.”

After meeting several prominent educational organizations in San Francisco and other cities in the US, Szilvi knew that she wanted to start a project for young girls to engage them in technology.

“The number of girls who choose IT education in Hungary is 12%. At the same time, the industry needs about 20,000 new specialists. We have a huge gap. We should inspire future female engineers already at school.”

Szilvi Koleszár and Zsófi Major became the drivers and co-founders of the project. Dr. Felde Imre, Vice Dean of John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics at Óbuda University, helped the startup project to develop a curriculum. Soon after that Péter Guzsaly joined the team and helped with operations and marketing development.

What started as a hobby project has today helped over 2,500 girls. Skool has made it in over 600 articles in both Hungarian and international media. They have over 8,500 followers on social media and have participated in several international events to present their project. They also run a programming contest in the Visegrad Group countries and Skool workshops in Vienna.

Photo credit: Skool.

“We wanted to reach as wide as possible, we arranged workshops both in Budapest and in the countryside. We got support from many software and IT companies that either sponsored us or hosted workshops. Skool project got over 500 mentors and now, four years later, we also have a huge alumni network,” shares Szilvi.

“I believe the reason behind our success is that we were the first ones on the Hungarian market with such initiative and, of course, our amazing team. After only six weeks of existence, we got over 20 partners and arranged lots of events,” adds Péter.

In 2017 the organization started a new project together with Google, KódKlub, where they provide computer science classes for children living at children’s homes.

“We started with 12 children’s homes. Teachers would go there and have classes every week during school time. We had to rewrite all the materials and training materials for this project. You need a different approach when you deal with children living in unusual circumstances.”

The plans for 2019 are very ambitious. Szilvi and Péter name alumni group activities, mentor meetups, and further development of the course.

“Previously, we have focused a lot on programming. Now we would like to move our focus towards the latest trends like AI, FinTech, and cryptocurrencies. Computer science will become a tool for creating amazing things of the future. Our method is to allow students to play a role in designing their own solutions to a number of local challenges and use coding as a tool.”

“We find it very easy to identify Sigma Technology with Skool’s vision to empower, inspire, and help young girls to choose a technical career. It has been an honor for us to participate in Skool’s Minecraft Summer Camp and host a workshop in our office. We are looking forward to cooperating with Skool in 2019,” says György Nagy, Country Manager at Sigma Technology Hungary.

Video: Skool’s workshop at Sigma Technology office

For more information, please, contact György Nagy, gyorgy.nagy@sigmatechnology.se.

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Skool facts

  • One-day workshops focusing on one topic, for example, mobile applications
  • 10-week boot camps, where we teach girls programming. We focus on free available tools, like Scratch, Python, JavaScript
  • Age groups: 8-10, 10-11, 12-14, 15-18
  • Skool teaches the basics of coding and related skills that contribute to critical and logical thinking, systematic approach, and problem-solving skills
  • 120 Skool alumni now study technology at universities
  • 92% girls who attended Skool activities said they would consider IT as an option for their future career
  • 32% would definitely choose technology field, 60% would consider this area – altogether 92% of them sees technology sector as a potential choice of their career
  • 93% of girls gain a sense of success during our workshops, which is closely related to their self-confidence too
  • 30 cooperating partners

‘They say, if you are not good in a video game, develop one for yourself in which you will excel – it may have been the main idea that led to my first application on a Skool program. My decision was made right after the first program I attended that I will choose IT education, but just to make it sure, I also applied to many other workshops too. 🙂 Last time I took part in a Skool workshop as a pupil was 3 years ago; nowadays I am already a mentor and instructor, a padawan for the other girls. I simply cannot imagine my life without this – I am extremely motivated by the newer Skool generations, who are incredibly enthusiastic; my fellow mentors and instructors are my role models as I see them sharing their knowledge and smile – it just charges me just like those days when I used to be ‘their‘ student. :)‘

– Zsófi Bugir, Skool girl

About Skool

Skool is a flagship project of the Technology in Education Foundation that provides free technology training for 8-18-year-old girls. Their core activity is introduction to technology; success- and experience-based coding courses with a focus on design learning and algorithmic thinking to increase female engagement in the technology sector.

Our method is to allow students to play a role in designing their own solutions to a number of local challenges and use coding as a tool. For more information, please visit http://skool.org.hu/en/

About Sigma Technology

Sigma Technology is part of Sigma and is a global supplier of product information, software & embedded design, and offshore development. We are experts with a passion for technology and information. We take pride in delivering quality and constantly improving our deliveries. Our philosophy is “Local Drive – Global Strength”, therefore we have offices worldwide to be close to our customers. For a complete picture, visit sigmatechnology.se.

Sigma is owned by Danir AB and has about 4,400 employees in 14 countries.

 

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