Female digital leaders inspire the next generation at the GDST App Design Challenge

On Friday 20 November, 32 GDST students from a range of schools took part in the final of the first GDST App Design Challenge. The students, aged 11 to 16, presented their ideas to a distinguished panel of educators and innovators in the prestigious surroundings of the BT Tower in central London.

The Challenge helped students develop new skills, confidence and knowledge of the career options available within the broad field of digital technology. Working in teams of no more than five, over 100 students developed an original concept for a mobile app that addresses an issue or need in their school or local community. Out of 31 entries, ten were chosen for the final. 

Speaking at the event was Jacqueline de Rojas, Area Vice President at Citrix, President of techUK and Computer Weekly’s most influential woman in UK IT 2015. She said:

“Creating apps, games, wearables and websites is a popular trend that is particularly interesting when we talk about girls and technology. There are still way too few girls and women in the digital sector and this is evident in both education and business. It remains a huge issue and, to tackle it, we need to make digital options more compelling for young girls as a study subject and a job choice.”

    We need to make digital options more compelling for young girls.

    Jacqueline de Rojas, Area Vice President at Citrix

    Helen Fraser, chief executive of the GDST, added:”The GDST App Design Challenge is an exciting, creative and collaborative opportunity for our students. The entries were of a very high standard and I want to thank everyone involved for their enthusiasm. All our schools encourage young people to develop an appreciation of technology early in life and I look forward to hearing more from our finalists in the future.Unfortunately, digital technology is still a predominantly male domain. Despite the large number of lucrative, creative and flexible job opportunities within this sector, male leaders continue to dominate the headlines. Raising awareness of job opportunities in the fast-moving world of digital technology at an early age enables girls to imagine themselves in a full range of roles, and not limit their horizons too early or too readily.

    As this event shows, today’s students are not simply producing, editing, repurposing and publishing content on social networks, they are building their own websites, their own games, and their own apps – developing both personal and digital skills as they go.”

    Natalie Moser, Lead Designer at Discovery Education and one of the Challenge judges, said:

    “There have always been students who enjoy programming and working with technology, but in the past it has tended to be a rather niche activity. As this competition demonstrates, there are now endless opportunities both at school and at home, for young people to learn to code and be inspired by the potential of digital. I feel very privileged to be part of this process and be a judge on behalf of Discovery Education. It has been a fantastic experience to see how many girls around the country have risen to the challenge and created such impressive app designs.”

    The winning app was iLife, developed by a team of Year 9 & 10 students from Birkenhead High School Academy. In second place was Diet and Allergy, developed by two Year 7 students from Bromley High School, and in third place, EdJump, developed by a team of Year 10 students from Howell’s School, Llandaff.

    The following teams excelled in specific areas: