Mentors are a huge part of what makes Technovation Girls possible each season. Mentors help teams set and achieve goals, learn how to manage projects, and support them through a challenging curriculum. While anyone can become a Technovation Girls mentor regardless of their professional background or technical expertise, over the years we noticed that a number of our mentors are teachers and educators. Two of today’s mentors are public school teachers who don’t teach computer science, but—like all Technovation Girls mentors—commit to making sure the girls in their communities have access to every learning opportunity possible. As you’ll read, mentors go above and beyond to make Technovation Girls a rewarding experience for their teams. Some bring in additional mentors to support the technical work, others teach themselves basic coding skills, and all of them provide space to the girls they work with to learn and develop skills that will serve them well beyond the end of the program.
For those mentors who have joined us for the last two seasons in particular, we want to extend our deepest admiration and gratitude. To guide teams through a coding entrepreneurship program online during a pandemic while balancing families, careers, and other community work is incredible. Time and time again you show us that Technovation Girls mentors are extraordinary. We’re excited for to introduce you to four of them.
Tatiana, Mentor from Spain
Tatiana teaches Economics and English at a high school in Spain. This season, she also mentored a team of five girls through Technovation. Tatiana is really keen on technology, so when her students asked her to be their mentor for Technovation Girls, she couldn’t say no.
She told us that she really believes in the power of her team and their idea to solve a community problem, and described her priority as supporting them to the best of her ability. Her team varies pretty widely in age, and she was so impressed by the way they came together to work on the app despite their differences in age. One student had the idea for the project, and the other four quickly got on board and got to work. Their project addresses inequalities in access to education in Spain—an issue that has only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tatiana summed up the season in three words: “motivation, hard work, and enthusiasm.” She also has a message for all Technovation Girls participants this year: “We can do whatever we propose, with a vision, and hard work. Believe in your possibilities and in technology.”
Celsia, Mentor and Student Ambassador from India
Celsia is a current Student Ambassador as well as an active mentor for the 2021 season—and she’s still in school and works with a community education program! Celsia studies electrical and electronics engineering at university while also supporting a program called Maker Women, whose YouTube videos engage and inform girls about issues related to technology and innovation.
As is clear from just that one paragraph, Celsia is passionate about helping girls learn about technology. She participated as a student in Technovation Girls in 2016. At the start she was nervous about working with her team and building technology, both of which felt big and overwhelming to her. However, by the end of the season Celsia felt like she understood the technology industry and big tech companies better—all those big ideas the tech companies work on started out just like hers’. She realized that no one knows what their ideas might become when they start bringing them to life, but building them is the important piece.
As a student, Celsia was inspired by her Chapter Ambassadors who mentored her through her project—it’s because of them that Celsia returned to the program as a Student Ambassador and a mentor. This year, Celsia reports that their chapter took great care to provide extra support and motivation to the girls they’re working with, and that “the girls are fantastic and giving their best to everything they do.”
There are challenges to balancing all of her commitments, but Celsia views this season as an opportunity to learn more about time management and making time to meet her responsibilities and still spend time with friends and family. The words “Learn. Do. Inspire.” are her motivation. For girls hard at work at Technovation projects around the world, Celsia has some encouragement too: “There may be challenges and hardships in your Technovation Girls journey. But don’t be afraid of them, face them today and become better tomorrow. Always believe in your ideas, and pursue them with passion!”
Padmapriya, Mentor from India
Padmapriya is a Technovation Girls Mentor in Madurai. She’s a Senior Test Engineer at a private tech company in Madurai, as well as a Google Women Techmakers Ambassador in Madurai, co-organizer for a Google Developers Group in Madurai, and runs a platform called Maker Women. Padmapriya is also a Technovation Girls alumni! We were touched to hear that Padmapriya credits a lot of her passion for supporting girls and women in technology to her experience as a Technovation Girls participant. “I never knew this was going to be life-changing” she tells us, thinking back to when she started, but the program inspired her to pursue a degree in computer science. Additionally, the hands-on lessons on brainstorming and problem identification set her apart from other candidates when she was interviewing for jobs, helping her graduate with three job offers.
After she graduated, Padmapriya knew she wanted to start giving back immediately. When she was a student, her Technovation mentor traveled long distances every weekend to teach them about technology, which helped her succeed in the program and pursue a career in tech. The idea that she can help other girls do the same is what keeps her going.
2021 was the first time that the Technovation Madurai chapter taught students online. Their chapter committed to serving under-resourced communities this year, so they visited the schools of girls without access to computers or mobile phones at home, to ensure they could still learn to use technology to bring their ideas to life. Padmapriya was hopeful that all her teams would complete their projects and submit their apps this season, but her message for her teams and all teams is a reminder that submission isn’t the end, it’s just one accomplishment of many. “Winning the competition is secondary. Whether we win or lose the competition, we should not give up on building the solution.”
Iseult, Mentor from Ireland
Iseult is the teaching principal at a one teacher school in County Mayo in Ireland, and a mom of 5. Iseult is currently mentoring girls from the local community, many of whom have difficulty accessing the internet (a common problem in the West of Ireland). This has made the move to online learning demanded by the pandemic especially difficult, but Iseult tells us that her teams are determined and full of grit.
In addition to the lack of broadband access, there are few tech professionals or tech companies locally. While Iseult does not come from a tech background, over the last two years she has supported teams of girls who are very interested in web and mobile development. To better help them she has taught herself about coding and technology as she actively mentors them, and has taken a course for teachers on Scratch and how to add lessons to her classroom. All of her students,( not just Technovation participants) showed strong interest in these lessons, which reaffirmed Iseult’s commitment to providing access to tech education.
This year, Iseult supported several girls through the program, and made the best of working remotely during a strict quarantine. She focused on making sure the girls learn as much as they can and supporting them as they move through the program — “the whole thing about mentoring in Technovation is about the girls, all about their achievements, what they do.” And she has a gentle reminder for all participants as we enter the part of the season full of anticipation about results. “‘Winning a prize isn’t important. What you win is you win the confidence you get in yourself, you win the fact that you get to say ‘I made an app, I made a business plan’.”
We are enormously impressed by, and grateful to, these amazing women and all of the Technovation Girls mentors who are acting as online mentors this year and helping girls stay engaged, keep learning, and keep working towards a better world. Keep an eye on our twitter, instagram, and facebook for more stories from Tatiana, Celsia, Padmapriya, Iseult, and their fellow mentors from part one of our mentor spotlight, Britta, Joan, Zalia, Laura, and Claudia.