News / Edmonton

International tech competition for girls lands in Edmonton

Students from across globe compete to develop apps

Amanda Gnenz and Jerilyne Yap, both 15, are part of the first Edmonton chapter of Technovation.

Kashmala Fida / Metro

Amanda Gnenz and Jerilyne Yap, both 15, are part of the first Edmonton chapter of Technovation.

When Jerilyne Yap first heard of Technovation, an international tech entrepreneurship competition, she decided it was a good way to apply her skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas.

On Saturday, after attending the first group presentations for the competition, the 15-year-old says she believes it’s so much more.

“Now I’m here to, and I know it’s cheesy, but make a change, do something that can help people,” Yap said.

Yap is one of the 25 students from six schools in Edmonton and St. Albert taking part in the first ever Edmonton chapter of Technovation.

Technovation was originally launched in 2009 in San Francisco by a non-profit called Iridescent. The organization’s mission is to empower girls between ages of 10 to 18 through technology to become leaders and innovators.

Over the course of 10 weeks, girls from 100 countries will work on creating apps that will be useful in their communities.

Amanda Gnenz, another 15-year-old student, says she joined because she wanted to learn as much as she could about the tech industry.

“I find it incredibly empowering to be part of this women’s girls only organization and I want to go into the health sciences technology ... so I just want to see how this will help me,” she said.

Ellie McFarlane, regional co-ordinator for the Edmonton chapter brought the competition to Edmonton. She says Edmonton is an emerging tech hub, and that’s why now is a good time to get young girls involved in tech entrepreneurship.

“I really think that Edmonton is the right type of city for this,” said McFarlane, who also works for a tech company Lift Interactive.

“It’s the right time to start inspiring young generations locally in Edmonton to pursue tech … that can really be contributing to Edmonton as a local emerging tech hub in Canada and in the world.”

A member of the tech industry herself, McFarlane decided to bring Technovation to Edmonton because she has noticed how much her career is dominated by men.

“I know that there are not a lot of us in the community worldwide and locally as well,” she said. “I just thought it would be a great opportunity to expose high school girls to this type of industry.”

She says she admires the mentorship aspect of the program where young girls will get to work with female mentors working in industries such as Bioware, the City of Edmonton and University of Alberta.

“They get to learn from women who are currently working in these roles and perhaps be inspired to push through an education in this area themselves,” she said.

Of all the apps created by students around the world, only 12 teams will qualify for the World Pitch.

The first prize for the winner of the World Pitch is $12,000 for juniors and $15,000 for seniors.

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