A PIONEERING techie is determined to help make a difference to the lives of fellow teenagers after scooping a national award.
Katie Griffiths, a sixth former at King Edward VI School in Stratford, won The One to Watch Award category at FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, after creating a support app for teenagers questioning their sexuality and gender.
Katie’s app ‘I’m Okay’ allows those in the LGBT community to share experiences and information resources, and see they are not alone in their situation.
The 17-year-old came up with the idea with three friends, after statistics showed nearly half of British LGBT pupils were bullied at school and a quarter of homeless teenagers identified as LGBT in the UK.
She said: ” I admire those who are a member of the LGBT community and are proud to be who they are.
“The app has received such positive feedback which is such a motivation to keep working to increase awareness for it.”
And since the launch of the app, the tech-loving teen has been working to encourage more girls to follow a career in technology by sharing her passion for computing, and speaking about her experience at events.
Katie revealed only one in five computer science graduates in the UK were women, with just one in ten working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs.
She said: “The difficulty in attracting women into the tech industry is down to a combination of things, including the lack of STEM role models for girls.
“Recognising more women in the science and technology field will show girls that it can be done and that it is something that is for them.
“Consider these are the fastest growing, highest paying, most in-demand jobs in the UK, and if current trends continue, only one in ten of those jobs will be filled by women.”
Katie – who was also a finalist in the BBC Radio One Teen Hero awards – said she was particularly keen to further explore artificial intelligence and the use of technology in business.
She said: “Technology combines problem solving, creativity, business skills and public speaking. This means that everyone can find something that will appeal to them and learning computing will teach you skills that’ll make you very employable.”
Visit imokay.org.uk to find out more about Katie’s app.