On Monday, November 28, 90 young people from the second and third grades of high school at Liceo Técnico Las Nieves in Puente Alto participated in the first Speed Dating organized by Cenia and the Inspiring Girls Chile Foundation, a circuit of dynamic conversations to learn about the experiences of women who have dedicated themselves to study and work in artificial intelligence and various areas related to computing.
What is Speed Dating?
Speed Dating are rotating conversation panels for groups of people, an initiative designed by the Inspiring Girls Foundation to offer girls, boys and teenagers the opportunity to meet women leaders in different areas (economics and finance, politics, literature, astronomy, engineering, etc.). The initiative consists of the participation of students, generally high school students, and the collaboration of volunteer speakers who wish to share their professional and life experience with the participants. The objective of this initiative is to present these women as role models, and thus encourage vocations and show the variety of options that exist when making a decision about what path to follow in the future.
Cenia has a specific line of work focused on the dissemination of gender initiatives and activities. During this first year, work has been done in building alliances with organizations that promote computational thinking in girls and adolescents, including the Inspiring Girls Foundation, which co-organized this initiative, collaborating with the participation of the monitors Francesca Lucchini and Noemí Crosby, software engineers from the Cenia development team; Gabriela Arriagada, and students of Civil Engineering in Computer Science at Universidad de Chile.
“I am immensely grateful to Inspiring Girls and Cenia for giving me the opportunity to participate in this event. It was beautiful to contribute with a grain of sand in empowering them for their future. The girls showed a lot of interest and enthusiasm, several left with the idea that there are more options than they thought and that it is possible to have a career with many complementary interests. It was an honor to finish that instance opening windows for them, telling them about the difficulties I have faced personally and professionally, and how was my way to dedicate myself to AI issues from an ethical and inclusive perspective. It is very important that, as people and professionals, we share our failures and difficulties, sometimes even more than the successes.”
Gabriela Arriagada, Cenia collaborating researcher.
“In my opinion, it was a very good experience. The girls had a lot of questions and showed great interest, I was very happy with the reception. I went through several groups and told them a brief story of my own goals and challenges. In general, I believe that initiatives like this help to open up options for women to consider STEM careers, in my particular case, computer science. In addition, there was a closing activity in which they had to think of an objective, goal or dream. Then, they had to think of an action they could take right now that would bring them closer to that goal. I think this can help them not to remain only in the message, but to take concrete actions.”
Francesca Luchinni, Cenia software developer.
“I really enjoyed the experience! The people at the event genuinely wanted to support the girls’ development and the girls seemed to appreciate the effort. I think the experience will have a real impact on the girls’ prospects. I would love to participate in more activities like this.”
Noemí Crosby, Cenia software developer.
“I think it was a very enriching experience, both for us and for the girls at the high school. Initially I was afraid that I wouldn’t be a big contribution since I’m still in undergrad and the other speakers are the type of people I also look up to as role models. However, I realized that I also have my own experiences and it has been an achievement for me to study what I study and to be where I am. I think it is very important to do this kind of activities, because this way girls can see that it is possible to work for our goals, even in areas dominated by men, because there are many women who are a great contribution to science, we just have to give them space to tell their stories. I hope that more women in STEM will be motivated to participate in activities like this, as it is a win-win for both parties.”
Catalina Carrasco, student of Civil Engineering in Computer Science and Astronomy at the Universidad de Chile.