This article first appeared in the January 2023 edition of the Norfolk Director magazine: Tech issue.
By Alison Sefton, Norwich High School for Girls
Norwich High School for Girls is part of the GDST family of schools, offering many advantages to students, staff and the community. Not least, we benefit from cutting-edge research. To mark the GDST’s 150th anniversary, a landmark survey questioned 5,000 girls in UK state and independent schools and academies to understand what matters most to them and how they feel about their futures.
When we drill down into the findings from the Girls’ Futures Report relating to technology, the number of girls wanting to work in digital technology fell from 43% to 16% between the ages of 14 and 18. Additionally, 26% felt they couldn’t participate in certain pathways because of gender.
Dr Kevin Stannard, GDST Director of Innovation and Learning, found that girls limit themselves due to gender stereotypes. In his paper on ‘Why (and how) girls thrive in girls-only schools’, one study found girls who were reminded of their gender just before a test, performed significantly worse than those who weren’t, a process dubbed ‘stereotype threat’. A girls-only education counteracts the negative effects of gender stereotyping. Statistics show that girls from single-sex schools achieve stronger results and enjoy more successful careers than their co-education counterparts.
“Here, girls study STEM, product design, build and drive go-karts, code and apply for leadership positions without perceiving those activities as ‘stereotypically male’. To my mind, that’s the greatest gift we give them, the ability to achieve and aspire unconstrained by gendered expectations.”
A recent Class of 2022 leaver, Madeleine Gibbs, went to Nottingham University to read Mechanical Engineering in September 2022. Maddie, who held a Music and Product Design Scholarship and joined our school in Reception, is following her long-held ambition to study engineering. Having been interested in motorsport since being a member of the Maths in Motion Norwich High Prep School for Girls’ club in Year 6, Maddie has taken every opportunity to immerse herself in STEM, including being a key member of our F24 racing team. Her ambition following university is to work in Formula 1 racing.
Our ACTIVE approach to learning encourages students to be Adaptable, Community minded, Technologically mature, Independent, Visionary and Eager to Learn. From a technology point of view, 100% of our students are digital learners, each having their own iPad and use of the Google Education Apps.
“We’re passionate about installing confidence in technology and encouraging girls with an interest in STEM to follow their own pathway.”
As well as our new Coding Club for Year 5 and 6 girls from our local community, we’re also hosting a Hack-her-thon Coding Challenge in March. The event is organised by Britt Dewing and Alice Tubby, two of our ‘class of 2022 alumnae’. Alice recently took up an apprenticeship position as a Data Analyst at local firm Geologix. She said: “We both feel it is important to provide a safe space for women, non-binary and trans students, as such spaces are rarely seen in the coding world. We hope that people will come along and make new connections with the other participants.”