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Cambodian Girls compete in a Mobile App Competition, Pushes Boundaries for Women in Technology

Cambodian girl coders achieve recognition at a Global Competition

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The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters
The five Cambodian girls of the app team Cambodia Identity Product, right, stand next to other coders from India and Hong Kong, at Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit competition at Google headquarters. VOA
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  • We want to increase employment for Cambodians
  • In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women

A group of Cambodian girls who recently traveled to California to compete in a mobile app competition offered inspiration for other girls worldwide to consider careers in technology.

Their pitch in Silicon Valley wasn’t a bid to be the next billion-dollar company. Instead, they want to help their country with a mobile phone application to address poverty.

“Let’s fight poverty by using our app. Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng, 12, who led the team that created the app, Cambodian Identity Product.

“We want to increase employment for Cambodians, so there will be a reduction of Cambodian migrants to work in other countries, reducing poverty through making income and providing charity to local Cambodians,” Chea Sopheata, 11, told the judges at Google’s headquarters. Google was one of the program’s sponsors.

To participate in the Aug. 7-11 Technovation global competition, girls around the world had to build a mobile app — and a business plan — that addressed a U.N. development goal. The Cambodian girls picked poverty.

While globalization has boosted the economic growth of Cambodia, especially its tourism industry, it has also created greater economic inequality and competition. The girls think their app can help.

“We want to promote our culture to people from all over the world,” said Lorn Dara Soucheng.

At their young age, no one expects these girls to be able to solve their country’s most pressing issues quite yet. But their presence here highlighted another issue: girls in tech fields.

In the U.S. and worldwide, the number of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) remains low and has even dropped.

In Cambodia, just 14 percent of students in information technology were women as of 2010. It’s a situation some attribute to a lack of equal access to education and a lack of female role models.

It’s hoped that programs like Technovation can reverse that trend.

“For the first time in history, technology can really help girls have a strong voice and help us have a society that has equality,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit organization behind Technovation.

These young Cambodian girls have proved how far they can go with technology. Most come from underprivileged backgrounds but had support from teachers, mentors, and family.

Cambodian American Pauline Seng, a program manager at Google, said the young coders have become role models for many other Cambodians, including herself. She didn’t get into technology until she was 23.

“There’s going to be so many people who aspire to reach this stage and also inspire other people to get involved in technology,” she said.

Although the Cambodian girls did not win the grand prize, which went to a team from Hong Kong, they were proud to have made it to Google and Silicon Valley.

After watching the male CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, speaking at the closing ceremony, the girls said they believed the tech giant would one day have a female leader.

“Yes!” they said, in unison.

Whether that will come true or not, they have themselves already become the youngest role models to inspire others, one girl at a time. (VOA)

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Facebook To Block Defensive Ads Targeting Under Adults

The company said that in the weeks ahead it will work with businesses and organisations that may be affected by the new age restriction policy

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Facebook is dumping projects to make amends. VOA

Facebook has updated its advertising policy to prohibit ads for weapon accessories to users under the age of 18, the media reported.

The social network currently bans ads for the sale of weapons and modifications, like magazines. But Facebook has taken an additional step of adding an age requirement for ads selling things like holsters, belt accessories or mounted flashlights, CNET reported on Friday.

Facebook updated its advertising policy page with examples of what kinds of firearm ads are and aren't allowed on the platform under the changed policy, which will come into effect from June 21.
Facebook has updated its advertising policy to prohibit ads for weapon accessories to users under the age of 18, Pixabay

Facebook updated its advertising policy page with examples of what kinds of firearm ads are and aren’t allowed on the platform under the changed policy, which will come into effect from June 21.

For example, ads for gun cases, slings and gun paint are allowed, but only with the new age restriction. But ads for firearms, ammunition, paintball guns or BB guns aren’t allowed.

The company said that in the weeks ahead it will work with businesses and organisations that may be affected by the new age restriction policy.

Also Read: An Unidentified Intention Of Crashing Apps On Latest Facebook 170.0

The announcement comes as the US has been embroiled in a nationwide debate over gun reform. Mass shootings, including school attacks in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, have intensified the discussion.

Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley company that’s waded into the gun debate by restricting the content on its platforms.

In March, YouTube said it will ban videos that promote or link to websites that sell firearms and related accessories. The company had already banned videos that attempted to sell firearms. (IANS)