After leaving the ECIS conference in Munster, Germany I ventured south across the Alps to Zurich where I was greeted by 30+ inspiring and courageous female entrepreneurs.

I was introduced by superhero Dr Niz (aka Zia) to the fabulous Jessica Fabrizi, who is without a doubt the #1 networker in Zurich. Jessica organised a mini-conference with a group of incredibly talented women who live in Switzerland and are from all over the world.

We had a great event at local hotspot Neo where we discussed the benefits and challenges of being an entrepreneur in a global marketplace. I was greeted warmly and was myself challenged by questions raised by attendees and by those who interviewed me (3 interviews in an hour before kickoff)…Who is Jenine? is probably the most difficult question I was asked…

Of course I love to talk about the Tech Girls Movement so the first interview was with Sheila Eggmann who writes for Swiss Ladies Drive (it will be available in Swiss-German soon – I’ll post). Then I was interviewed by the fabulous international business coach Fabiola Leon who runs Bridge the Gap2Success: the video interview is posted below.

Lastly I was interviewed by Gionvanna De Marco who writes for Emirates and an Italian fashion magazine. Great questions! I’ll let you know when it is published as part of a feature on global entrepreneurship. Best part was that I was invited to do a photo shoot on a beautiful sunny day in Zurich. Not something I do every day that’s for sure. Here are a couple of my favourite pics.

The photographer Lino being photographed, and Giovanna the writer dealing with the local wildlife 🙂 This was a busy pathway too!

Some of the cool wall designs in Zurich…

After a truly beautiful time in Zurich I had 2 VIP meetings at the European Commission in Brussels with Director Generals for Agriculture and SMEs. These meetings came about after I emailed people I found on the EU website. It turns out you just have to ask 🙂

Oh and a superhero has to have some fun! 🙂 What an excellent adventure!

I’m excited to share my recent adventures with you. I have just returned from a very productive and fun trip in Europe. 5 countries in 3 weeks where I was invited to present on my research around online communities, entrepreneurship, gender and information systems. I also was able to spread the word about the Tech Girls Movement and the Tech Girls Are Superheroes campaign.

In this blog post I will talk about the first half of my adventure.

First stop, the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi in northern Finland literally on the Arctic Circle. This is where Santa Claus comes from 🙂 I was invited by my long time colleague Professor Jonna Hakkila (aka Snowflake Girl). Jonna’s team are working on a Digital Health Revolution project and one aim is to build an online community. As my PhD research was in this area and I’ve published papers about how to take offline communities online, I was invited to present my research to the team.

Here are a copy of my slides from the presentation.

Second stop was the University of Munster in Germany, where I have visited my research colleagues twice before. This year the prestigious European Conference for Information Systems was hosted by the University in Munster, and I was invited to be the keynote speaker of the Womens Networking event. This event received the most registrations ever at the conference (135) and it was launched by the Department of the Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and Media of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. The event was well attended and was a fun way for early, mid and senior career researchers to meet and interact. The current President (Helmet Krcmer) and the President-Elect (Jason Thatcher) of the Association for Information Systems also attended. Congratulations to PhD Student Elena Gorbacheva for organising a great event.

My slides from the presentation are here.

I also was part of running a track at ECIS on Diversity and Inclusion in the IT workforce. The room was full and the discussion fruitful! Great presentations by colleagues, a great success!

I am also running the same track at 

ACIS in Adelaide in December 2015

ECIS in Istanbul in June 2016

See you there!

Stay tunes for part 2 of Jewella’s European adventures soon!





This post was written by Bruce Strong, Director of NetEngine. I’m helping to spread the word as I presented to schools on this topic just last week.

As part of RHoK December last year one of the teams did crisis mapping, assisting the Ebola response and the Philippines typhoon – saving lives in real time.

A devastating earthquake has just struck Nepal. Humanitarian partners are mobilising in response to this tragedy. The deployment of mappers is needed in order to speed up the disaster damage response efforts.

If you have a few hours, in the next few days you could make a massive difference. Click on the link below to get started, no prior experience necessary.

Here are the tasks to work on

Here are instructions

ICT careers are often depicted in the media as a male-domain even though women played an important role in the early development of computers. In the 2012 book Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing, author Janet Abbate explains that when the first computers (e.g the Colossus) were developed during World War II in the UK, women were responsible for essentially inventing programming languages.

Despite this, women continue to reject the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry as a potential career path, even though the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women argues that mainstreaming a gender perspective in technology and innovation enhances social and economic equity

One reason for this lack of interest in ICT careers is “stereotype threat” that unconsciously manifests in our pedagogical practice in the classroom. Such stereotypes, the pictures in our head that simplify our thinking about other people, work their way into our teaching practices. Often teaching ICT in the classroom relates to solving gambling or sporting problems, and lacks context of the problem being solved. This is important because of the old tool vs toy argument: boys are comfortable with playing (toying) with technology for hours without a particular goal in mind, whereas girls use technology more often as a tool to get a task completed quickly. Girls in particular also like to see that they are contributing to social good.

There exist certain expectations about participating in the ICT workforce and the characteristics of those employed in the industry, and these are reinforced by the history of nerds in movies and on television, who are all male and stereotypical:

Examples of nerds in Sitcoms are Steve Urkel in Family Matters (1989-1998), Moss and Roy in The IT Crowd (2006-2010) and Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Rajesh in The Big Bang Theory (2007-present). 

Prominent Nerds in movies are Lewis and Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and the character of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the The Social Network (2010). 

Furthermore, reality shows have recently started to explicitly cast nerds as participants.  Examples for American reality TV formats that prominently feature nerds are Beauty and the Geek (2005-2008) and the very recent King of the Nerds (2013).

ICT stereotypes are reinforced in the media through technical roles proliferated by nerdy boys and men with the stereotypical large glasses, no or few social skills and the preference for pizza and coke, like gamers. This form of “stereotype threat” discussed in the academic literature has wide ranging consequences. 

Firstly, it minimises girls ability to perform well in technical tasks, consequently dissuading girls from even considering a technical career path. Research from Aronson et al., (1999) suggests that girls under “stereotype threat” are more likely to attribute failure to something within themselves. They employ this as a defensive strategy to erect barriers to performance that enable the girls to attribute the failure to the barrier rather than an innate deficiency in ability. Alarmingly, these widely visible stereotypes in ICT can impact even if girls are interested in technology careers, they can still be dissuaded through “stereotype threat” which often starts in middle school. Thus, when we invoke a stereotype-based conceptualisation of technical roles it is self-propagating; if girls are told that technology roles are not suited to them, then they will not perform as well as they are able to in such roles. Overall the consistent message is that girls and computing do not mesh well, and that IT is not a favoured career option for girls. This has drastic consequences for our society.

Aronson et al (1999)’s well cited article explains how cultural stereotypes shape and are shaped by our world. They define stereotypes as “producing expectations about what people are like and how they will behave”. Cultural stereotypes are resistant to change, and they are situational; they vary in intensity as a function of the social climate. At present, the cultural Western stereotype of an IT professional is not appealing to girls. With mass media such as the Big Bang Theory depicting those people with technical expertise as ‘nerds’, regardless of how funny the TV show may be, this kind of stereotypical depiction reinforces the social climate and conflates expectations that to work in this occupation you must conform to these unflattering (and unappealing for the most part) stereotypical characteristics. Of course this is not necessary in reality but our next generation of tech entrepreneurs are unlikely to realise this.

The irony is that Mayim Bialik who plays dark-haired Amy on the Big Bang Theory is actually a neuroscientist in real life.

What can you do to beat stereotype threat in the classroom?

  • Promote a-typical role models in ICT – both male and female
  • Be conscious of gender biases in teaching practices and curriculum
  • Promote ICT activities and tasks that have a clear social benefit
  • Discuss the historical contributions of females to our ICT industry


Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen is an Australian social entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Adroit Research, the Founder of the nonprofit Tech Girls Movement, and is a University lecturer in Information Technology. She inspires school girls into STEM careers through free books celebrating the female tech role models in our society. To order free copies of Tech Girls Are Superheroes, visit and

The Tech Girls Movement teamed up with the Australian Computer Society and Digital Careers to celebrate International Womens Day 2015 at QUT, Brisbane.

We kicked our event off with purple cupcakes and we had superheroes Jewella (me), Aion and Cybele in the house with our guests – girls in year 11 and 12 and their parents.

Bruce and Ben from NetEngine walked us through the importance of crisis mapping and how we can literally change the world from our laptop using open street maps. Because there are many places in the world that GoogleMaps does not map (such as West Africa where Ebola has hit), each save of a user-defined road or creek can help the Red Cross and UN get the necessary aid to those who need it. 

Even the parents and teachers got involved! Some teachers are working the 2015 Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero into their assessment this year!

I was so inspired to see how much the girls really wanted to make a difference. They jumped straight into the task at hand. My most inspiring moment of the day was talking to Brianna who was telling me she has chosen to study IT and creative design next year at university, not realising we have met before. At a Young ICT Explorer event 3 years ago we met and I gave Brianna a copy of Tech Girls Are Chic (my first book) which she said inspired her to study tech. Now with this event, she was convinced. I nearly cried! What an awesome International Womens Day 🙂

Oh and if you haven’t seen this video yet, you must 🙂

On Friday night (27.2.15), Tech Girls Are Superheroes launched at an awesome event at the University of Auckland New Zealand. We had more than 300 girls and their fabulous mums (and some cool dads too!) attend, not a spare seat in the auditorium! The event was organised by Dr. Alyona Medelyan, who runs  STEAM ahead! This is their second event, and it was amazing by all accounts!

Firstly, Alyona crowdfunded the event through PledgeMe (a NZ tech startup success) – so cool that everyone donated to fly Jewella over to present in person! Nearly $3000 was raised to run the event, more than the $2000 original goal. A number of sponsors set up a trade show and answered the girls and parents questions after the talks, and had fun goodies for the girls. 

Cupcakes for all on arrival! Need I say more? 🙂

All girls received free books and I was excited to present alongside Nanogirl, who is an inspiring superhero. Nanogirl is a well-known and respected speaker on STEM in NZ and the girls were so happy to meet her in person 🙂 If you haven’t seen her in action, you’re missing out. Watch her TEDx video here.


Jewella presented up first. An obligatory selfie got us underway 🙂 This was only 1/3 of the crowd!

I talked about how we can change the world through technology, for instance through crisis crowdmapping. One important point of the night was that you can combine technology with almost any other area of passion that you have, like those featured in Tech Girs Are Superheroes. For instance, If (Jess) is designing a technology for young deaf children to learn how to sign. Scriptrix (Monica) has a background in Psychology and is now a game developer; this helps her better understand people in order to make games for them. NVisible (Prachi) runs clinical trials to help discover cures for diseases like cancer. Incognito (Kay) combine law and IT to help deal with emerging legal issues arising with new technologies. Dixi‘s (Katie) background in journalism makes her an excellent communicator as a software developer. 

Nanogirl had some great messages and engaged the excited crowd, and she even has a superhero shield that is 25 times stronger than steel – and he she made it herself!). As an engineer, she has an exciting career breaking stuff. Yes, really. She encouraged girls to learn how to code with Scratch, created a catapult out of lollies and sticks and showed us how liquid nitrogen works. A volunteer from the crowd tackled a hammer, a lolly snake and the nitrogen and we had fun doing “dragon breath”, where you eat popcorn covered liquid nitrogen and you steam out your nose like a dragon! This was a huge hit with the crowd (and all us #techgirls too!).

The energy and excitement in the room was obvious. Many great comments from parents and girls themselves. Many were asking when the  next event is! 🙂

Congrats to Alyona for running a successful event, and well done to the volunteers who also helped everything run smoothly. You #techgirls are inspiring role models. Also thanks to the 2 photographers (pics & vids to come – see more here), Nathan for the audio, N4L for the podcast (to come), Futureintech who spread the word to the schools, anyone I’ve missed (sorry!) and everyone who came along. It truly was a blast! 🙂

To map the world is to change the world

To map the world live is to change it before it is too late

In December, I had the absolute pleasure of being one of the community causes for the Brisbane Random Hack of Kindness or RHOK (pronounced rock) hack event.

This is such an awesome event where those with an interest and some skills in technology development come together at a host organisation to build some technology solutions – Net Engine was our generous host.

The team developed a real-time interactive map which shows where the Tech Girls Are Superheroes books have been distributed. This is so cool – check out the bigsky map here.

One of the other community causes on the day was the crisis crowd mapping of disaster zones around the world. Working with global organisations like the United Nations and the Red Cross, the team were mapping parts of West Africa to help battle ebola, and during the hack they changed course to map parts of the Philippines due to the imminent typhoons. The team may have saved many lives that weekend.

I’m now fascinated with this new breed of digital exploration. I’m convinced that digital humanitarianism is a way for us to engage young people with technology. Mapping big data is an important topic – find out more here.

Watch this video to see the original digital humanitarian Patrick Meier tell us why its so important for us all to get involved in this. This guy is inspiring!

Bruce Strong, Co-Founder of NetEngine and the Brisbane RHOK host wrote a great blog post about the day and the impact we had here. He and his team are helping us out for our first ever group crowd mapping event with high school girls for International Womens Day to be hosted at QUT on the 11.3.15 – details and registration is here.

Here is the video (also on Bruce’s blog post) which summarises the Brisbane RHOK event and the small contribution we made to changing the world. We are also building this activity as a resource for teachers to use in the classroom. Stay tuned!

Did you see our inspiring 2015 Ambassadors Lili Scout & Brynlea Gibson? Read more about them here

Computer technology is pervasive in our daily lives, and it has become integral to all aspects of society. Did you know that women played an important role in the early development of computers? In fact, the first computer programmer was a woman and her name was Ada Lovelace. She worked on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine in the 1800’s. Also Rear Admiral Grace Hopper invented the compiler in the 1950’s which essentially is a translator to enable humans to talk to computers. These were groundbreaking moments in our technology history.

Despite this, women continue to reject the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry as a potential career path. Even though the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women argues that mainstreaming a gender perspective in technology and innovation enhances social and economic equity.

While efforts are being made to expand access to ICT across the globe, the UN argues that “far less attention is being paid to the extent to which women and gender concerns are shaping the regulatory and policy environments that will ultimately determine the utility and relevance of these technologies. The strategic challenge today is to ensure not only that both women and men benefit from the opportunities presented by new ICT, but also that new ICT are used to support greater socioeconomic, scientific and political equality”. Even with unprecedented demand for qualified computing workers, there has not been a significant uptake of females to fill this need. But why is this really a problem that needs educators urgent attention?

As this table highlights, the technology we use every day needs to be built by teams that represent the diverse nature of our society. If we want our current and future technologies that are more increasingly embedded in our daily lives than ever before to be innovative and creative, then we need a more diverse ICT workforce. To get this, we need to encourage girls to participate.

Last year, Silicon Valley tech giants released the diversity breakdown of their workforce. Google came first, admitting that only 17% of their technical workforce are women. Twitter’s figures came later reporting only 10% of their technical workforce are women. It is clear that these figures do not represent their user base (ALL females I know use Google), and the values and behaviours of the users they do represent are unconsciously embedded in the technologies they create. 

If you are still wondering why this a problem, consider the following example. Domestic violence has a devastating effect on our society, and has long lasting consequences. The 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has experienced this first hand, and she just announced the release of an mobile app to help educate and support young women about domestic violence. It is designed to “empower young women and help them understand the warning signs of abusive and controlling relationships”. Not surprisingly, the app was developed a young woman, Katherine Georgakopolos. It was through Katherine’s experience with a female friend in a domestic violence situation that she felt compelled to develop this app. Her values and experiences were embedded in her design of the technology. This is not to say that men will not have these experiences, but domestic violence is a situation women are far more likely to find themselves in then men. It is a situation that can significantly benefit from a uniquely female perspective. It is reasons like this that we need more girls to study STEM subjects, and to be encouraged to pursue a career in ICT.


Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen is an Australian tech entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Adroit Research, the Founder of the nonprofit Tech Girls Movement, and is a University lecturer in Information Technology. She inspires school girls into STEM careers through free books celebrating the female tech role models in our society. To order free copies of Tech Girls Are Superheroes, visit and