April 2023

Promotion of technical competencies: My experience as a mentor at Technovation Girls Germany

Passing on knowledge and accompanying people on their development path is a real matter of the heart for me. That’s probably why I end up in different mentoring situations again and again. A completely new experience for both me and my mentees was Technovation Girls Germany in the 2022/2023 school year.

Technovation Girls Germany: imparting technical knowledge to girls

Numerous social and ecological problems in the present and future need digital solutions – that much is clear. This requires well-trained specialists with an interest in technology. The goal of Technovation Girls Germany, a project of the German Children and Youth Foundation, is to awaken and promote this interest among girls and young women at an early age.

Mentoring for app development

Technology and innovation form the name, and that’s exactly what’s in it: During the project period of just under a school year, small groups of female students get together, learn the basic concepts of programming and develop their own app to counter a social or ecological problem with an idea for a solution. They are accompanied by mentors with whom they have weekly exchanges.

This role fell to my co-mentor Christina and me last school year. Between November 2022 and May 2023, we accompanied the three students Clara, Pauline and Jule. Every week, we got together digitally and discussed their progress and how to proceed.

Digital against clothing waste: The app of our mentees

The app idea was quickly found: Our team picked the topic of clothing waste and developed a mobile app that tackles the problem head on with a preventive approach. Anyone who deals with the critical aspects of fast fashion knows how many textiles often end up in landfills almost unworn. The often catastrophic working conditions in the manufacturing countries are also no secret.

Our team’s finished app was given the name “PRECIOUS,” which is the acronym for “Precycling and environmentally concerned useful services.” The useful service: In addition to information on the environmental impact of wasted clothing, nearby second-hand stores and recycling centers are displayed depending on the app user’s location. Instead of throwing away clothes in the recycling bin, they can be put to good use with PRECIOUS.

Giving ideas, communicating strategy – for the female specialists of tomorrow

This form of mentoring was also a completely new experience for me – for the first time I had young schoolgirls as mentees instead of university graduates. However, the young talents were not to be underestimated, as their impressive results show. In a short time, they learned programming, applied it practically, and showed their remarkable results at a final presentation, which they also mastered with aplomb.

For me, the mentoring was once again an exciting and enriching experience, because I also had to familiarize myself with areas that were initially foreign to me. Although I am not a computer scientist, I was able to impart strategic knowledge and business development to our team.

In addition to the good ideas that our three have developed with an alert eye for current problems, I was also convinced by the basic idea of the program. Tomorrow’s skilled workers can and should be inspired and encouraged at a young age. It makes sense to start promoting women among girls, because in around ten years’ time they will be the ones who really matter.

Here you can find more information about Technovation Girls Germany: Technovation Girls Germany | Technovation Challenge