A Partnership for the (Teen)Ages: Femme Cabal and AGENTS
Femme Cabal was honoured to take part in the Alberta Girls Engineering & Technology Summit (AGENTS) as a community sponsor.
This annual event has high-school aged girls (female, trans, or non-binary students in grade 10-12) take part in a two day workshop where they meet and are mentored by some of the most impressive Albertan women in STEM.
Femme Cabal was approached by Leah Elzinga, the Lead of the Edmonton Chapter of Canada Learning Code, and asked if we would like to take part. We immediately jumped at the opportunity to lend ourselves and our expertise to this event. We came up with a game plan for how we could provide the teenage attendees of this event with some value: through the power of social media and greeting them at the event with our friendly faces!
On the first day, we arrived just as excited and nervous as each of the girls! We greeted each of the teens and handed them a swag bag (including a Femme Cabal sticker, of course!) and eased their anxiousness by making jokes as they were getting signed in (poor quality jokes, but still jokes). Some of the girls were more relaxed, as they had just come from an impressive tour at the headquarters of Startup Edmonton.
We also took over the @learningcodeyeg Instagram account for the event, allowing other volunteers the time and space to work on running the event itself! (Give them a follow!)
The day started with an inspiring speech from Dr. Ania Ulrich, Dean of Engineering & Oureach at the University of Alberta (the first female Dean in that faculty!) and then an all-female panel of engineering students. The teens were informed about the realities of joining the faculty of engineering, and were (hopefully) inspired to start their path to education early!
Next was Femme Cabal's time to shine. We provided free headshots to each of the girls, along with information on how to get the best out of LinkedIn, to help set the girls on the path to success as future professionals on social media. Each girl was SO charismatic!
In the afternoon on Day 1, the teens participated in a hands-on Engineering Design Challenge sponsored by the U of A's DiscoverE program, and they had the opportunity to speak with recruiters from the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, and NAIT.
Day 2, deemed "Technology Day," started off with the Female Leaders Brunch. 18 of Alberta's most impressive women in STEM, from newly graduated engineers to CEOs, acted as mentors in face-to-face conversations with the girls while we all enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Jobber. The theme of the conversations were mentorship and what it takes to REALLY make it in STEM.
Following the brunch, the girls got to experience a Virtual Reality Lounge sponsored by Microsoft, and participated in a full Canada Learning Code HTML & CSS workshop where they learned how to code!
We cannot express how impressed we were with the quality of this event. The information that the girls were presented with was extremely valuable. We kept saying to each other that if we had the opportunity to participate in an event like this when we were in high school, we probably would have ended up as engineers ourselves.
We cannot wait for next year, and we encourage the rest of the community to support this event, either as volunteers, corporate sponsors, or even just by promoting it to your networks!
A huge thank you goes out to Leah Elzinga, the entire Edmonton Chapter of Canada Learning Code (and their volunteers), each of the mentors and panelists and speakers that took part, the sponsors (CGI Group, Startup Edmonton, Microsoft Canada, Jobber, ATB Financial, and DiscoverE at the U of A), and of course, the teen girls themselves.
We'll leave you with testimonials from the AGENTS event:
"AGENTS is a great event for young women to explore what engineering and technology can offer them for their futures! The chance to speak, one-on-one, with successful women in the industry is a unique opportunity many young women never get. 10/10 would recommend!"
-Tammy Valgardson, mentor
"I’ve been in the workforce for almost 21 years and participating in the Canada Learning Code event, made me realize how much support we now have for women. Equally important to note that we all need to fortify what has been accomplished and forge ahead together. I was basking in the positive energy in the room as it was palpable; it was an exhilarating experience to say the least. Keep up the good work, let’s continue building the community, and thank you for the opportunity to engage our young friends and share our experiences!"
- Pia Acuna, mentor
"I have been working as a mentor with CLC and while working with them I have realized that Canada Learning Code is playing an important role in digital literacy. Considering the fact that computer science is not a part of education curriculum, they give a good introduction of coding to kids. Some girls find computer programming daunting and attending a coding workshop that is only for teenage girls boost their self-confidence. As far as AGENTS is concerned, I found it a fabulous program for girls. It is an amazing way to guide, encourage and motivate girls and it also provides them an opportunity to spend time with women who are already in STEM."
-Mehwish Abbasi, mentor
"I had a great time at AGENTS and learned a lot of helpful and useful information."
-Abigail, high school student
Author: Avery Johnson, Femme Cabal in Edmonton, Alberta.