Estonian IT businessman Taavi Kotka created a girls only technology club called Unicorn Squad two years ago that now has over 1,200 enthusiastic members.
"If you join the program, it totals six courses each spanning six months. Half a year sounds like a long time, but the club meets once a week that comes to about 120 hours per course," Kotka said on the "Hommik Anuga" morning show.
The classes are divided between six different topics that include physics, drones and robotics – the classes are supervised by parents.
"You develop by starting with very simple things. The course on electricity literally starts with how to change a light bulb, while it ends up with the children assembling rather complicated circuitry," Kotka said.
He got the idea for the club when Kotka's daughter and another girl were thrown out from their school's robotics club. "They said we were not active enough and because the Robotex fair was coming, the boys had to prepare and we were less active," Helena Kotka said on the show.
That is how Unicorn Squad, where no boys are accepted, was born. Taavi Kotka said that girls now have a better environment in which to learn about technology and that they prefer classes with no boys.
"It seemed peculiar to me that we had a single girl for every ten boys in technology clubs – there has to be a mistake somewhere. We decided to try a different approach – to offer that same tech education in a different environment where we take the boys out of the equation and then see whether girls are interested in technology. Looking at statistics and our results so far, we can say there is great interest," Kotka said, adding that physical education classes are also held separately for boys and girls because it yields better results.
I think the key is knowing there is nowhere to fall back. That everyone is the same, we are not competing with each other and have achievement goals that usually need to be reached in cooperation. Because everyone is the same, the atmosphere is relaxed and supportive that adds up to a safer environment," Kotka explained in terms of why girls do not want to allow boys in.
The businessman added that one does not have to have straight A's in mathematics to join the club. "You simply need to master the basics and have consistency studying and there is nothing to it," Kotka said, adding that attending the club might benefit girls when it's time to choose their vocation as people with tech know-how are always needed.
Kotka also said that the club helps take a step toward creating equal conditions for men and women on the labor market. "We can see a gap in wages for men and women. The reason is that women often do not get the chance to work in certain positions because they have made the wrong choices down the line or were never given the opportunity to make the right ones." The businessman said that making the world a better place requires action.
Editor: Marcus Turovski