Female role models aim to increase women in tech

11 Dec 2017

From an early age, Lee Kiang Koh was encouraged to embrace the traditional role of a woman in the home. Instead, she forged a career in technology and wants to inspire other young women to do the same. 

“I was always passionate about working in technology, and I was lucky enough to receive a Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) degree scholarship to enable me to get a qualification after school,” says Lee Kiang from Macquarie’s Singapore office. 

“Women are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and I want to encourage the next generation to consider this field as a career option. For that to happen, we have to support access to quality STEM education, instil an interest in girls and develop the right skills for roles in the future.” 

Together with 21C Girls, a non-profit organisation that develops and delivers free coding classes for girls, Lee Kiang organised a four-hour coding hackathon for around 15 girls aged between 13-15 years old. The workshop included a variety of fun, hands-on activities designed to get the students excited about being inventors, problem solvers and creative in STEM. 

Staff members from Macquarie’s technology team also mentored the students as they used ‘microbits’ to create their own programmable musical instrument. This exercise was designed to give students an idea of what a career in the FinTech (Financial Technology) industry would be like and provided them with role models.

Following the hackathon feedback survey, 100% of the girls involved said they would consider a career in the Fintech industry. “Our ultimate goal was to inspire young girls to think outside of the traditional roles for women and pursue a career in STEM, so I was happy to see that this experience broadened their horizons,” says Lee Kiang. 

As well as the hackathon, a donation of $3,328 with matching from the Macquarie Group Foundation was made to support the work of 21C Girls as they prepare girls with the skills and knowledge to build a career in STEM. 

Also during Macquarie’s annual Foundation Week Lee Kiang and colleagues from the Singapore held an event with 21C called ‘Littlebits’ in which staff made small inventions. The event raised $30,000 with matching from the Macquarie Group Foundation. 

Image caption: Macquarie staff members pictured with 21C Girls – generating interest in STEM for future generations