Empowering Girls in Technology: the Story of HAESF Alumna Szilvia Koleszár

While having worked for LogMeIn as a Talent Acquisition Manager, Szilvi participated in the Senior Leaders and Scholars Fellowship of the Hungarian-American Enterprise Scholarship Fund (HAESF) in 2014. Her original research focused on how US tech startups scale their business from a HR perspective, how they manage talent acquisition and employer branding. Not long into her scholarship however, an exciting new topic captured her attention – how to encourage young women to enter into technology fields.

Still in the United States, Szilvi developed the vision to launch a program in Hungary that aims at empowering young girls in technology. “I received an incredible amount of inspiration from New York City and the people around me – they made me feel that I can do whatever I want to do, that nothing is impossible, that people help each other, and that we are the ones who build our own walls” – she said. It took her only four months to start realizing this vision – upon her return to Hungary, she co-founded the Technológiai Oktatásért Foundation and in June 2014, Skool – the pilot program was launched in Budapest.

Technologiai Oktatásért Foundation is an independent Hungarian nonprofit organization dedicated to inspire, empower and get children to learn, explore and pursue career possibilities in technology. The foundation was established with the aim of contributing to a social change in Hungary: to change how the IT sector is perceived, how men-dominated it is currently, and how exclusive it is for girls. To do this, Skool was launched, which became the main project of the foundation. Skool’s mission is to have more women in tech in Hungary; its programs are designed for 10-16 year olds girls. As the program evolved and its success was apparent, it became clear that there is a strong need to broaden the foundation’s activities to include technology education for young boys as well. In the fall of 2014, KódGarázs, the foundation’s second project was launched with the goal of teaching young boys and girls coding with tools and equipment they need in order to learn real and usable coding skills – something that it is not available through traditional IT education or with online tutorials.

Szilvi and her team – including HAESF fellow-alumna Anett Sóti – offer a complex program for the 2014/2015 school year which consists of workshops, student-centered activities, afterschool classes, summer camps, and other components that include talks, demos, and talks led by inspiring entrepreneurs, CEOs, developers and designers. In the future their goal is to become the leader of the tech education field in Hungary and to provide valuable assistance for local schools in improving their tech curriculum.

We wish them the best of luck!