Originally posted as part of our Huffington Post blog series.
“A role model is a person whose serves as an example by influencing others,” says the American Academy of Adolescent Psychology (AAAP).
To see yourself somewhere, and in order to make it easier to set a future path, the most useful and motivating tool is a role model; they give inspiration and guidance. This is why role models are instrumental in getting more women into technology fields. It starts from girls.
While celebrity and known business people are the most obvious, and most attractive choice, an easily accessible, in-person role models are also good and useful to girls.
One of the main elements of the DNA at Vidcode is women in tech. Getting women and girls, who have traditionally been underrepresented in this area, into the field of tech and computer science is something that runs deep here, at our wholly female owned and operated tech company, and one way to do that is through role models that have made it into the tech fields.
While role models that have achieved a “celebrity” status are great, such as Karlie Kloss and Marissa Meyer, role models that can be interacted with are most effective for long term success in the field.
According to a study published in the medical journal, Psychology Women Quarterly “Both boys and girls may identify more with the role model whose success seems to be the most attainable—that is, the role model whose success is explained by efforts.”
The study also shows that “students identify more with a role model whose success in math is explained by hard work than with a role model whose success is explained as natural talent or whose success is not explained.”
This is why an in-person role model is important, as opposed to an out of reach celebrity.
The study’s findings also show that kids benefit more from a role model they can directly identify with, such as a female working in tech, for girls.
An Accenture study said “We can not emphasize enough the importance of role models in identifying women with leadership goals. Our findings show a strong correlation between having a role model and having C-Suite aspirations. “
But finding a role model for yourself or children might seem difficult. So how can you go about this?
A great way is for through clubs, groups or after school activities that are tech based. These groups will have someone in charge who is knowledgeable about the field and most likely has contacts in the industry. Also groups like big brother big sister, or cultural organizations often have professionals that volunteer to generally mentor or teach new skills. Ask for a volunteer that works in the tech industry.
There are many great organizations whose mission is to further women (and girls) in tech, such as The Grace Hopper Organization,Women In Technology International, and the Association for Women in Computing,the Anita Borg Institute, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), that are trying to get more women and girl interested in technology,and can provide role models.