Girls’ Day 2018: Career education at Google in Paris

This Girls’ Day Verena Wolf, professor of computer science at Saarland University, is visiting the Google office in Paris with a handpicked group of female high school students. In this way, the girls will get a firsthand account by female software engineers of what the profession looks like. According to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, more than half of girls consider only ten different professions for their career choice. The nationwide Girls’ Day wants to change that.

Professor Verena Wolf (left) and the students.

When Saarland University recruits students, it also points out that they can reach Paris via train from the campus in less than two hours. Now, 18 schoolgirls from grade nine at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium in Saarlouis are also benefiting from this on Girls’ Day 2018. Together with Professor Verena Wolf and computer science teacher Yvonne Meyer, the girls are visiting the Paris-based Google office, which is currently expanding by 50 percent to 1,000 Google employees.

Under the guidance of female software engineers from Google, the girls will spend several hours together programming software. They will also have the opportunity to ask them any question about their jobs and their education.

"All of the students attended computer science lessons in school for the past two years. So they know what computer science is. They not only are able to program, they are able to solve problems in a creative way," Wolf points out. Since 2012 she is a professor and head of the modeling and simulation group at Saarland University. She adds, "But what is missing is the information about what the profession looks like. At Google, the students can also identify with the female software developers. So they can find out what kind of women these are, and how this could look for themselves in ten years." Yvonne Meyer, who teaches mathematics and computer science at the Max Planck Gymnasium, confirms this assessment: "The profession of a developer is becoming more concrete by the visit. And in the concluding question and answer session they can ask exactly what is important for their decision."

For months Wolf has been campaigning to improve computer science education in schools. "At the moment, only 16 percent of our students in the bachelor's degree program are female," she says; "that is not enough." Hence, she organized the visit to Google through her existing contacts. In doing so, she insisted that the girls would already know the basics of computer science. "It is difficult to introduce a girl to computer science with only one event if she did not have any computer science lessons before," she explains. She further points out: "She cannot put together the picture for herself: Can I do that? What will that look like later? Even the Girls’ Day does not manage that. The reason is that the event by itself does not dispel the rumor that programming is a monotonous job because you have to write code all day long."

"The opposite is the case. You are creative and work in a group that is young and international," says Wolf, who was honored in 2013 by the business and science magazine Technology Review as "best innovator under 35 "in Germany.

The cost of the train trip will be covered by the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction at Saarland University.

More information:

Questions can be directed to:
Professor Verena Wolf
Modeling and Simulation
Saarland Informatics Campus E 1.3
Saarland University
Tel.: +49 681 302-5586


Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Saarland Informatics Campus E1.7
Saarland University
Tel.: +49 681 302 70741

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