PMC Multimedia

13 June 2016

VIDEO: 'Nanogirl' calls for more female Pacific and Māori techno youth

"Nanogirl" Dr Michelle Dickinson ... science and technology industry's need to talk more openly about diversity. Image: PMC video

AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Providing pathways to better opportunities for Pacific youth, through the use of technology, was a key message at the Pacific Wave 2016 'Prosperous Futures through Technology' conference in Auckland.

Hosted annually by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, this year’s event was held at Aotea Square where guests spoke about the importance of Pacific youth playing an innovative role in technology.

A keynote speaker was Dr Michelle Dickinson, director of science and technology organisation, Nanogirl and a senior University of Auckland lecturer.

Dr Dickinson, who describes herself as a “passionate engineer who wants to make a difference in the world”, stressed the importance of having diversity in science and engineering industries.

Diversity in teamwork
"We need to talk more openly about having more female and especially Pacific and Maori students in this industry," Dr Dickinson said.

“Diversity in science and engineering is really important because what we do is solve problems. The best way to solve problems is to have teams and if you have a team of people that are just like you and think like you, you probably are not going to problem solve as well as if you had a diverse team.”

Diverse teams ensured people were coming with different experiences and backgrounds, which helped create the best science solution or engineering product, she said.

Also a co-founder of OMG Tech!, a programme that is focused on the state of the art technology and allows children in primary and intermediate schools across the nation to take part in workshops, learning aspects of 3D printing, coding and building robots.

Passionate about her cause, Dr Dickinson said she did not run a workshop unless the class was 50 percent female and 50 percent low decile Maori and Pasifika students.

“Because I want to create a technical space of education where the minority become the majority,” she said.

Pacific representation
New Zealander and global entrepreneur Jamie Beaton also spoke at the event. The Kings College graduate is CEO of Crimson Consulting, a company that has made almost S90 million within three years. 

The institution helps young professionals gain the mentoring and assistance they need to study at world-class universities.

“Basically after high school, I had applied to all these universities around the world. After I gained admission to them I realised there was this massive need in New Zealand to help students with the resources necessary to break these geographical boundaries- that was the starting block," he told Pacific Media Watch.

The 21-year-old reinforced the theme of empowering youth with technology.

Beaton explained he was particularly focused on helping universities who were actively trying to recruit students from the Pacific.

“But there isn’t enough representation right now from Pasifika, so we need more applicants from there,” he said.

'I want to help inspire more of these students by providing the tools necessary to get into these places.'

He said it was important for young people to remember that their potential was not bound by their community, but instead bound by the world.


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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons