From where I stand: “Technologies are the best and most effective tools for making change”
Nino Nanitashvili was just 18 when she became the only girl in Georgia involved in a Google developer group. She went on to found Women Techmakers, which encourages women to explore new roles in IT.
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
When I was choosing a profession, I did not even know that I could go for technology or engineering. No one told me it was an option, so I chose sociology. Even now, many girls are not aware that they can have technology-related careers.
I was 18 years old when I formed a Tbilisi Google Developer Group with other volunteers. I was the only girl among the organizers, and it was only boys who would participate in the activities. This is how the idea of establishing a Georgian chapter of Women Techmakers was born—an activity that aims to involve and incentivize more women in the IT field. We invite girls and women who are successful in this field to share their experience with others and inspire them. We arrange hackathons, where the girls create a technological product by themselves, even the most basic one, and they become confident that they can really do it. The boys also attend Women Techmakers and support them. They see that men and women have equal capabilities in technology.
Technologies unite topics and people. Technologies are the best and most effective tools for making change in the twenty-first century. I became certain of it two years ago, when the idea of “peace game” became a reality. It was a bit of a crazy concept in the beginning. Project participants and I wanted to get Abkhaz [a breakaway region in northwestern Georgia]] and Georgian adolescents closer to each other—representatives of a generation who have never seen each other—so we thought about trying something new. Indeed, adolescents are mostly the same, and the majority like online games, right? So, we decided to create a virtual space where they would be able to play and make friends at the same time. Mixed members formed the gamer groups; Abkhaz and Georgian adolescents were on the same team and needed to have as much communication as possible in order to win. When the game was over after six months, the emotions of the participants showed us that the game was a success.
Then we implemented a project that aimed to teach programming to adolescents in 10 regional towns. We are implementing a similar initiative now; we share the basics of programming among the youth in five regions and invite speakers who inspire the participants. One of the objectives of this project was to empower girls in information technologies; this is why we required that half of the participants be girls. Digital inequality is high between the capital and regions, which is why it is important to interest girls in technologies in the regions. This will ensure that, unlike me, the girls who are about to choose their profession now will know that technologies can become their profession, as well.”
As an ambassador of Women Techmakers community and the director of the Innovation Support Fund, an non-governmental organization, Nanitashvili, 26, oversees multiple initiatives across the country to break stereotypes and raise awareness about the importance of women participation in the field of STEM. Nanitashvili and her team arrange hackathons for girls to create technological products and gain confidence in their abilities. She’s currently working with UN Women to train more than 100 women and girls in five regions in Georgia on digital skills that will open new career opportunities.