Encore for Robyn's tech fest for girls at KTH
When Robyn teamed up Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology last year to present a technology festival for girls, it was proposed as a one-time event. But due to popular demand, the singer-songwriter's Tekla Festival is back for an encore on April 9, 2016.
For the second year in a row, girls between 11 and 18 years will get a chance to spend a full day discovering and experimenting with different kinds of technology at Tekla Festival, which will be held again at the KTH campus in Stockholm.
As it did in its 2015 debut, the free Tekla Festival offers girls firsthand experience of the ways they can use technology, and a chance to meet female role models in a variety of fields.
Tekla takes aim at the gender gap in the so-called STEM fields —science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The idea of the festival is to make technological areas more accessible and attractive so that girls can deepen and develop their interest. For KTH, one long-term goal is more applications from young women.
"We need to be persistent in efforts to reduce the gender imbalance," says KTH President Peter Gudmundson. "It's not enough to have a one-time event, so it is both very exciting and important that we can hold Tekla Festival again this year."
Robyn says that while there are no quick fixes, "getting girls to be comfortable in technology" is essential if women are to have an equal stake in influencing our increasingly technological society.
"Technology plays a huge part in how our society is developing right now, and it's obvious that technology will be shaped by those who want to be involved with it. But this is a long process."
Tekla offers relaxed, inspiring and playful surroundings where it is easy to experiment and develop skills. Robyn says that as a musical artist, she knows how important this kind of setting is.
"In the creative process, freedom to experiment is very important," Robyn says. "In music you can go totally bananas — and maybe that's the way it should also be in technology, which can seem a little bit stiff."
Robyn describes the event as a "safe bubble" where girls can try things they might not have realized they would be interested in.
"As a younger girl I didn't feel that I was encouraged to explore my interests in technology as much as the guys were," Robyn says. "I think that Tekla can help demystify technology and promote girls' curiosity about things that they are not otherwise exposed to."
There appears to be no shortage of girls interested in participating. The festival is expanding to host 400 girls this year — twice as many as last year, due to overwhelming demand (more than 1,500 girls expressed interest in attending Tekla in 2015).
"It's not only the attendance of girls at the Tekla Festival that is important," Gudmundson says. "Online presence and social media are essential to attract and inspire even more of tomorrow's engineers."
This year's Tekla Festival offers 28 activities and workshops running simultaneously. The participants will be separated into two age groups (11-14 and 15-18), and they will have an opportunity to combine technology and creativity in a variety of areas, such as space exploration, robot programming, game design, music production, 3D printing, protein purification, and more.
The festival day concludes with a DJ session with the duo Y + M as well as a live performance with Robyn.
Tekla Festival is organized by KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Robyn, with partner companies Atlas Copco, EA DICE, Ericsson, NCC, Scania and Spotify. Creuna is the Tekla web partner.
Registration is free and will be taken from March 1 to 18 at the Tekla homepage, www.teklafestival.se, where a complete description of the program will be available.
The event takes place on the KTH Stockholm campus, inside Kårhuset (student union), Drottning Kristinas väg 15, and in the Arkitekturskolan (School of Architecture and Build Environment), Osquars backe 5.