UX and Design
AND She Can in Action: Year 10 Girls Learn Experience Design
17 June 2022 • 4 min read
AND She Can is on a mission - to permanently close the gender gap in tech. Led and facilitated by an enthusiastic team of AND Digital volunteers, the initiative focuses on skillsharing, mentoring and inspiring women and girls, through a range of activities across the UK and Netherlands.
In Spring of 2022, our volunteers headed to a school in West London, to host a 2-hour Experience Design Workshop with a group of Y10 girls. To find out what was involved, we caught up with UX Designer and AND She Can facilitator Imogen Campbell Heanue…
The big idea
Hi Imogen! Could you explain what AND She Can is? Why is it such an important part of AND’s culture?
AND She Can is an initiative which aims to inspire girls and women to pursue a career in tech. Tech is often seen as a field which is predominantly male dominated and requires coding skills. However, there is much more to tech than that, and so it is our mission to make people aware of the opportunities that are available and help facilitate a transition into a career in tech. One of AND’s values is to give back to our community; and as part of this we run outreach events to engage with girls and women as part of our AND She Can initiative!
You’ve covered core coding skills in the past, what made you opt for an XD session in this case? did an XD session with a number of different schools. What was the thinking behind it?
Experience Design (XD) is a relatively new field in the tech world, and as a result its roles and entry routes are still not fully understood or communicated. I hadn’t heard of XD myself until after university, but once I dipped my toe in, I instantly knew it was for me. I know I’m not alone in that, so I think it’s important to try and build awareness of these opportunities earlier, when young women are starting to think about their further education or career options.
What did you cover in the XD sessions?
We split the XD session into 2 parts. This first part was all about getting a sense of what the students thought tech was, and then giving them a better sense of what tech actually entails. We did this though exploring the roles within tech and XD specifically, as well as sharing our personal journeys into tech.
The second part of the session was all about giving the students practical, hands-on experience of what the role of an Experience Designer might look like. To do this, we gave the students the goal of creating a new and improved design of an existing app. We took them through a problem solving challenge, guiding their design thinking process in a way that would be typical of an Experience Designer. In groups, they were able to create their very first app prototype, which they then shared with their peer teams. The students were able to get an understanding of what XD is and the skills involved, and it was incredibly rewarding to see them take it in their stride and have a go themselves.
How did the students respond to it? What did they find challenging? What did they find surprising?
The students loved the workshop! We managed to collate quite a lot of feedback and it seems the students really enjoyed the workshop (scoring an average of 9/10 on enjoyability!) The areas they most enjoyed were ideation, brainstorming and teamwork. Their biggest learnings and things that were most surprising to them were seeing what the reality of tech is (more than just code!) and learning about the field of XD. They also learnt a lot about the process of creating an app.
Has running the sessions changed your perspective on XD work? What did you learn?
Running this session was a reminder of how important the non-technical skills are, such as collaboration and communication. Watching the students work together through the activities, I was able to see how they all made use of these important soft skills that are often overlooked. As a result, they were able to generate some fantastic ideas as a team and produce something to be proud of.
Closing the gender gap in tech isn’t just about what we can do right now, it’s about ensuring that bias doesn’t continue to manifest in the next generation. Working with school age girls means we can build an awareness of opportunities and female role models, long before career-defining choices are made.
If your school would like to host an AND She Can workshop, get in touch with us today.