Over 200 girls aged 13 to 16 years benefited from Flow’s recent Girls in ICT Expo which provided students from across the island with a unique opportunity to engage with industry leaders and gain valuable insights into the world of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The event which was held at the AC Marriott Hotel in St. Andrew featured speakers such as the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Daryl Vaz and Vice President and General Manager at Flow, Mr Stephen Price.
The day also featured an inspiring keynote address by Jamaican-born tech star Natalie Bennett, Senior Product Manager at Google.
Bennett, a former student of the Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) and a graduate of the University of Technology in Jamaica and Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, shared her journey in ICT and emphasized the importance of representation for young girls.
“I am extremely honoured to be part of Flow Jamaica’s Girls in ICT event,” said Bennett. “Over the years, I’ve been dedicated to encouraging more women to get involved in technology through talks and volunteer programs. This event is particularly special to me because, no matter where life takes me, Jamaica will always be home. I understand the significance of representation. I want to help you dream, be seen, and see yourself in unimaginable ways,” Bennett stated.
She urged the young attendees to forge their own career paths in the ever-evolving landscape of ICT, highlighting the endless possibilities available.
Bennett further encouraged the girls to think beyond the traditional 9-5 jobs and strive to create innovative solutions that can shape the future.
Her empowering message resonated deeply with the students, leaving them feeling inspired to make a difference.
One such student, Kayla-Marie Page from St. Andrew’s High School for Girls, expressed her fascination with the event’s diverse range of ICT offerings showcased at the booths.
Having participated in Flow Foundation’s Future Tech Stars program, where she learned coding, Kayla-Marie found the expo to be both fun and informative.
“I really enjoyed Ms.Bennett’s speech. When I grow up, I want to become a doctor, but now, I also feel inspired to use technology to create something that will benefit the world,” she shared.
For Janna Moatt, a fifth-form student of Cedar Grove Academy, the day was just as exciting as it was informative.
“My favourite part of the day was the keynote speaker. She was very inspiring and she showed the connection between ICT and business, and as a business student, I can appreciate that. Today has also taught me that we should throw away gender norms when it comes to IT,” Moatt shared.
Another attendee, Xaria Patrick, a fourth-year student at Campion College, felt greatly influenced by the event and expressed gratitude for the support she felt from women in the field. “I feel like I have a lot of support now, and it feels really good,” said Xaria. “Natalie’s speech made me want to go outside and build something. It inspired me to be a problem-solver and look for ways to make a positive impact using the knowledge I have.”
International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of April. This year’s theme was ‘Digital Skills for Life.’
Flow’s inaugural Girls in ICT Expo successfully brought together key players from academia, non-governmental organizations, and public and private sector entities to create an immersive ICT space for the girls.
Exhibitors included prominent institutions and entities such as Northern Caribbean University, University of the West Indies, University of Technology, HEART Vocational Training Institute, HEART/Amber Coding Academy, STEM Builders Learning Hub, Universal Service Fund, Star Apple AI, Virtual Reality Jamaica and the Jamaica Technology and Digital Alliance.
Other partners on board for the event included Ngage by TIM, the Sandals Foundation and Phase 3 Productions.
Flow’s Girls in ICT Day Expo created a platform for young girls to explore their passion for technology, gain valuable insights, and be inspired by industry leaders.
By fostering an environment of empowerment and innovation, Flow continues to contribute to the growth and advancement of the ICT industry and to champion greater equality, diversity and inclusion in Jamaica.