TalTech and the HK Unicorn Squad, which promotes technology education for girls, have signed a cooperation agreement to develop IT and technology education among girls at all school levels.
Up to 4,000 girls from all over Estonia will be involved in joint activities in the coming years.
The HK Unicorn Squad, which has been operating for five years, has been offering technology education as non-formal learning to primary and basic school girls, with nearly 3,000 girls participating in hobby groups. With the help of TalTech’s learning labs and lecturers and students, IT, science, and technology education will be extended to girls who have reached upper secondary school. In total, the project aims to include up to 1,000 secondary school pupils in IT and technology courses. Together with girls in technology hobby groups at primary and basic schools, the long-term goal is to provide technology education for up to 4,000 girls.
TalTech wants to attract more female students to the engineering, science, and IT programmes of the university, who have so far chosen other specialisations for various reasons. ‘The current labour market offers equal opportunities for men and women to become engineers or software developers, but the proportion of women applicants is still low,’ says Hanno Tomberg, Head of the Open University of TalTech. ‘The choice of a university programme determines future career prospects, and it is therefore important to get girls interested in technology from an early age,’ stresses Tomberg.
The mission of Unicorn Squad is to develop girls’ interest in engineering, robotics, and science from an early age and thereby increase the share of women in ICT. ‘The first goal of HK Unicorn Squad was to show that girls can also be interested in technology and to get them to program robots, fly drones, etc.,’ says Taavi Kotka, founder of Unicorn Squad. ‘While so far, we have offered girls who are up to 14 years old an opportunity to attend technology hobby groups all over Estonia, then now, in cooperation with TalTech, we can extend it to upper secondary schools. This way, girls stay interested in the field longer, giving them an even bigger incentive to consider these fields when they apply to universities,’ says Kotka.
The cooperation agreement was signed on 17 June at the HK Unicorn Squad camp in Viimsi School, for a period of six years.
The Virumaa College of TalTech has been cooperating with the Unicorn Squad since 2022, and over a couple of dozen girls from schools in Kohtla-Järve and Jõhvi have participated in the courses. In addition, nearly 800 students attend the TalTech School of Technology courses and camps each year.