“When I heard that IT Girls were coming to our school - that was it.!”
"At the beginning, there were prejudices like 'this is not for girls', but I wanted to come and show that we can do the same thing as boys."
On October 11th, 20 girls from the IT Girls club at the elementary school Fra Ilija Starčević in Tolisa near Orašje, marked the International Day of the Girl by attending a workshop where, with the assistance of their teacher Ivana Pejić, they assembled a flashing diode using Arduino sets. Girls first watched a movie on how to assemble a diode, and then extracted the parts needed for the exercise, which will eventually connect the USB cable to a computer and program the way it will work.
“I have been interested in computer science, robotics and programming for quite some time, and when I heard that IT Girls were coming to our school, that was it; it didn't take me long to apply. At the beginning, I did encounter some prejudices like 'this is not for girls', but I wanted to come and show that we can do the same things as boys and that it makes no difference,” says Ana, an 8th grade student, and one of the participants of IT Girls workshops:
"I find everything interesting, especially when I see how something we make ourselves works in the end. I would advise all the girls to get involved, to come, to learn, and I'm sure they will like it!”
9th grader Janja says her participation in IT Girls workshops has changed her opinions and attitudes about girls in IT:
"I come to the workshops to gain more experience in computer science and programming. We can learn a lot here and at the same time fight the prejudice that this is reserved for boys only. The workshops influenced some of my opinions and attitudes, thus I started thinking about doing something related to electrical engineering in the future and maybe go to an electrical engineering school for the beginning,” says Janja. Teresa would like as many girls involved as possible:
"I applied to learn something new and interesting, and the workshops for now are meeting my expectations. I would love to go to other schools and introduce them to what we do, get other girls interested and show them that we can," says Teresa. Katarina is also pleased with the workshops:
“I am here because we are learning something new in a fun way, and because I want to show that girls can be just as good at computer science, programming and assembling. I've already learned a lot of new things, and had it not been for these workshops I would never know what certain parts like the Arduino Uno plates are and what they serve for,” added Katarina. Other girls who joined the club and come to the IT Girls workshops with teacher Ivana, agree with Katarina, Tereza, Janja and Ana.
IT Girls Initiative is a joint initiative of the United Nations agencies (UNICEF, UNDP and UN Women) to address the constraints and obstacles faced by girls and women in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In November 2018, representatives of the Initiative along with the Bit Alliance launched a crowdfunding campaign called "IT Girls Come to Your Schools" to provide Arduino kits and encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math.
“We are honored to be among 10 schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina that have received 10 Arduino kits for learning programming and creating electronic circuits. The girls gladly responded and came to the workshops. I see that they are happy that there is finally a club specifically for them,” says physics teacher Ivana Pejić, who, with the assistance of mathematics teacher Miroslav Damjanović, runs the workshops.
"I think we made the best use of the opportunity that has been given to us, working and improving our knowledge, this is something new for both children and teachers. The girls are interested, they show a great desire to work, it is on us to show them the basics and give them the opportunity and let them explore and develop creativity on their own," says teacher Ivana, adding that there are many places for progress:
“Because I also work in vocational high school, with the support of the headmasters of both schools, the IT Girls club has already partnered with an electrical engineering high school whose students will come to some of our workshops to show girls some of their skills, and vice versa, so we are developing cooperation. We already have more girls interested in electrical engineering and CNC operator’s department, and I think it will continue growing. I also run a robotics club; thus, this collaboration is natural and everyone will complement each other,” says physics teacher and IT Girls mentor Ivana Pejić.
Mathematics teacher Miroslav Damjanović says he is happy to help with the workshops, and is pleased with what he has seen so far: “They are interested and eager to learn, and in these workshops they have the opportunity to learn something they cannot do in regular teaching in elementary, or perhaps even in high school. I think that such workshops are very important for them, to get them acquainted with this area and open them many opportunities for future development,” says Miroslav Damjanović.”
Elementary school Fra Ilija Starčević in Tolisa was opened in 1823. as the first elementary school in Bosnia and Herzegovina.