“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right” – An Interview with Avye Couloute
Every interview we do for Women Rock literally blows us away, there are so many amazing stories of career and life journeys for underrepresented folk in the industry included. This one has my whole heart! If you do anything today please read this and share it with friends, colleagues and your business. I’m not going to tell you that there are a lack of women in STEM, we all know this already and whilst it is improving we HAVE to think about the next generation if we are going to improve this and get close to closing the gap.
I wish I met Avya when I was 13 years old but now I’m 30 and feel privileged to have her on Women Rock. Ayve is the Founder of Girls into Coding, with her mum Helene. She is on a mission to get more girls involved in Tech. She believes that it is important for girls and women to see and be aware of ordinary girls and women doing cool things in the STEM world. Her mission is to create stimulation opportunities and events to engage girls to consider further STEM activities, studies and careers. After repeatedly observing that the majority of attendees at her workshops were boys, she was determined to encourage more girls to give STEM a go. So, she decided to set up a series of events targeting girls and that’s where Girls into Coding came from. These events are offered to girls aged 10-14 to explore coding, physical computing and robotics. With her mum Helene who has just been selected for the Lloyds Banking Group and Bank Of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. they reach out to other female role models in STEM careers, inviting them to give lightening talks at their events.
This is the future. This is what the industry needs and Avye you are AMAZING, keep doing what you are doing. We are really looking forward to supporting throughout 2021!
So without further ado, please welcome Avye ❤
I AM SURE MANY FOLK LOOK UP TO YOU AS INSPIRATION FOR THE FUTURE OF STEM. WHERE HAS YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY & MAKING COME FROM?
I went to a coding club when I was 7 and at the club, we learnt basic languages such as Scratch. From there, I started attending CoderDojo workshops where I got introduced to the Microbit and electronic components that could be controlled with it. I felt that they were more hands-on and exciting. After attending quite a few CoderDojo workshops, I gradually started to run them alongside someone else and after a while was able to run them on my own.
I really enjoy making robots; it’s much more fun to visually see something physical rather than just focusing on the screen. It doesn’t always have to be robots; there are endless projects that involve programmable components. It’s just more fun for me and more hands-on.
I also like physical computing because you get to handle different components and use them to bring projects to life.
I’ve always loved making stuff; it gives me a chance to be creative and resourceful. The things that I make and projects that I have worked on have given me opportunities to experiment, invent, discover, share, network, collaborate, challenge myself and grow.
I’M ALSO SURE YOU GET ASKED THIS A LOT, BUT I MUST ASK, WHY DO YOU THINK SO FEW GIRLS FOLLOW A TECHNOLOGY AS A SUBJECT AND THEREFORE CAREER?
Between the age of 5 and 6, many boys and girls have an equal interest in technology.
By the age of nine, a significant gap starts to emerge and girls’ interest in STEM in general seems to drop. Girls can sometimes start developing a negative perception of STEM. While this continues, women remain underrepresented in the tech industry. I think the biggest challenge or barrier is linked to the saying, ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ and the perception of tech being a ‘boy thing’. If you don’t get to see someone who looks like you enjoying it, central to it, comfortable with it, successful within it, then it’s probably going to be difficult to see a version of yourself further upstream in the tech world.
The media needs to help by showing girls who are doing cool things in STEM. Girls need to see other girls & young women just like them – who are doing cool stuff in tech. You cannot be what you cannot see!
I’M REALLY EXCITED TO FOLLOW GIRLS INTO CODING, COULD YOU PLEASE SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN UP TO?
I’ve been collaborating with Arm and with the other GenArm2z Ambassadors on an app linked to tech for good and sustainability …..it’s been a great learning opportunity for me – being involved with app design for the first time and I got the chance to take on the responsibility of creating the User Interface.
I’ve also been developing a robotics Kit that I am hoping will go to market at the end of this year or early 2021. I also made an adaptation of the kit which I was able to send out to the participants at my Virtual Girls Into coding event and together we built and coded the robots on Zoom… so we still had that hands-on element. It worked out really well so I’ll be sending the kits out to another group of girls soon.
I delivered 3 coding and robotics workshops at my virtual Girls Into Coding events, and I am preparing for the next one.
I contributed to the 2020 CMC (Children’s Media Conference) provided insight as a Change Maker, which was included in the CMC Changemakers video.
AT PRESENT AROUND 16% OF WORKERS IN THE UK TECH SECTOR ARE FEMALE. DO YOU THINK THERE IS A HOPE TO INCREASE THIS THROUGH THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALES COMING INTO THE INDUSTRY AND WHAT DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES & COMMUNITIES CAN DO TO PROMOTE GIRLS INTO STEM SUBJECTS?
I think some improvements have been made and there are several female role models who advocate for girls & women in STEM – I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of them and to be inspired by their journey.
However, girls and women are still under-represented in STEM . It’s still a male-dominated area and we must all strive to change this. It is important that we work together to create an environment where women and girls feel equally valued and have a sense of belonging in the world of STEM
Businesses and communities can support organisations that are working to create opportunities for girls to engage with STEM based activities. They can highlight the involvement and achievements of females already established in the tech world.
There should be more workshops and events that highlight the range of tech jobs out there to encourage girls to consider careers in technology and to show that technology can be fun.
Schools should work on correcting the negative perceptions that girls develop at a young age. This could lead them to embrace math and science when they reach high school, rather than avoid the subjects
They should encourage Participation in Tech Programs, competitions – In-school and out-of-school.
WE HAVEN’T HEARD OF GENARM2Z PROGRAMME WOULD YOU MIND TELLING US A BIT ABOUT IT?
The GenArm2Z programme is a programme created by Arm.
The GenArm2Z ambassadors talk to tech leaders about how technology is being used and how it can be built for the future and we also collaborate on projects. The latest one, PlantPal, was revealed at the ArmDev Summit. PlantPa is a gardening app with integrated HardWare, designed to drive efficient growing and help rethink the use of urban spaces.
DO YOU HAVE ANY BOOK, BLOGS OR PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND?
Book: His Dark Materials
Podcast: We can change the World Podcast on BBC sounds
Blogs: Girls Into Coding blog , Stemettes blog
WHO WOULD BE YOUR 3 PEOPLE AT A DINNER PARTY?
My mum and my two grandmothers
IS THERE ANYTHING REALLY COOL YOU ARE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on a project that involves AI and Machine learning, linked to one of the Sustainable Development Goals. (environment)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE <3?
You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right – Rosa Parks
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DONATION & SPONSORSHIP PLEASE SEE DETAILS BELOW:
We are open to partnerships, individual donors. We need everyone’s support! You can either:
- Make a donation, http://bit.ly/3ldqVXU
- or Become a Corporate Sponsor. http://bit.ly/2EmwkeR to request a brochure
You can also Girls Into Coding on social media:
Website GIC: https://www.girlsintocoding.com/
Website Avye: https://10tonolimit.com/
Thank you so much Avye and Mum Helene for taking the time to speak to us. We’re looking forward to supporting next year, keep rocking!
A voice for diversity in tech <3