Girls in Tech: ‘It started when we bought our first PC’
Coral Movasseli, Managing Director of the new Dublin chapter of Girls in Tech, is a Canadian whose interest in technology started at an early age. “I’m a Toronto native,” she says, “My mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood. My dad has his own medical device business. We had really cold winters – we’re talking minus 30 – there were times when I couldn’t find my car in the street because there was so much snow!”
‘I was always a very curious person; I wanted to discover anything and everything’
“For me, it started when we bought our first computer. It was a big clunky PC and I remember spending all my time on it. I started designing and building my own websites when I was about 10 or 11 and I used it to showcase my personal profile and, after requests, I did the same for my friends.”
‘I didn’t think I was doing anything different as a girl; I was just doing something I was interested in’
“I started to teach myself to code in HTML. There was no manual, no handbook. The fun of it is that challenge – you’re so close to doing something and you have to figure it out. Then, when I was 14, I began reading biographies of great Canadian influencers such as former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and I started thinking about how could I change the world?”
Toronto – Ottawa – London – Nice – Toronto
Coral didn’t stay in Toronto. “I knew that if I stayed in the same place I’d be exposed to the same ideas.” After studying Political Science at the University of Ottawa, she completed internships at the UK Parliament and was on the career path of becoming an international diplomat with the Canadian Government. Moving to London, she got her MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics, a school Trudeau had also attended, then worked in a growth stage start-up in private equity before moving to Nice for a career break then, finally, back to Toronto to be with family.
‘The most lasting benefit was the friendships I made with other women’
Because Coral hadn’t been in Toronto for a long time she’d lost touch with her childhood friends so she started going to lots of social events. “One of them was Girls in Tech, which I really enjoyed. It was great to have this platform where other women can come together in the city and it gave me confidence. The most lasting benefit was the friendships I made with other women whom I still keep in touch with even now they’re scattered around the world.” So, when Girls in Tech needed someone to build the Dublin Chapter, Coral applied for the MD role.
Girls in Tech, in brief
Adriana Gascoigne created the not-for-profit Girls in Tech in San Francisco, in 2007, to provide a network for female Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals. Girls in Tech is now in over 60 cities, worldwide, and has over 50,000 members with a wide range of programs to educate, empower, and engage women in STEM.
Girls in Tech – how it can help you
Girls in Tech’s Amplify Startup Pitch Nights give women a chance to pitch to experienced investors and experts to win a cash prize. Coding Bootcamps help provide both skills and confidence in a supportive environment. Their Coding Hackathons bring together developers, designers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs, and educators to learn new skills and solve real-world problems. And past speakers at their Catalyst Conference include Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.
‘Where we see ourselves is helping young professionals to people later in their careers’
Since summer 2016, Coral has been listening to diverse stakeholders in Ireland to see where Girls in Tech can best fit in. “I would say for girls below 18 years old there is a lot of activity to expose them to STEM. Where we see ourselves is helping young professionals students to people later in their careers. These women might not have been exposed to STEM when they were younger. I also think more can be done to help female entrepreneurs; putting them in touch with investors or getting them exposed to experienced entrepreneurs”.
We can say, ‘hey, that thing we’re doing in Singapore is really working well, let’s bring it here!’
“For the first few months we want to focus on events that both help our members and help us form the agenda in Ireland. In the future, we plan to use our existing network across the world to bring speakers and exposure to Ireland. The good thing about Dublin is that it’s relatively small and you can get access to cool people quite quickly.”
“While Girls in Tech Dublin is a platform for women, it’s also about transcending gender barriers to promote equality and inclusivity with open dialogue and membership for men and women.”
“We subscribe to an ideology where we welcome and work with all like-minded women and men alike. To change minds, you need great minds”.
‘If we can reach just one person that will be great but we want to change society’
“I also want people who come to our events in Ireland to use our international network and attend events anywhere where there’s a Girls in Tech. We do have international mentorship and internship programmes which differentiate us from other women in tech organisations.”
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