Marita Cheng

  • Founder, Aubot Academy
  • Australia

Impact area: Education; Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4

Marita Cheng is passionate about equipping girls, especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds, with the confidence and skills to pursue careers in computer science. As a 10-year-old growing up in a remote town in Australia, Marita dreamed of learning how to code, but there was no place for her to go. Now, through the Aubot Academy, she’s providing thousands of girls with online access to computer science education while in school.

Marita credits the grant she received from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund with getting Aubot’s work off the ground. “This was the first funding we received for the project,” she says. “It gave us the credibility and validation that we were on the right path.”

Marita is no stranger to launching a successful startup. In 2008, she founded Robogals, which engages female engineering students as role models for girls from primary to secondary school. Now operating through 30 chapters in ten countries, Robogals provides girls with valuable exposure to technology and engineering-related careers.

Over its first ten months, Aubot achieved impressive results. Through partnering with 77 rural schools—in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Hawaii—the initiative trained 442 teachers, who reached over 8,800 students.

Students were quick to embrace the program’s interactive teaching methodology. “I learned a lot of new things and had fun with the activities,” said one 14-year-old.

Teachers, too, found the program easy to deliver. “Aubot is fantastic,” said one. “The online Zoom call gave my students a great way to interact with professionals while the website allowed them to engage with coding in an easy-to-understand way. Many of my students had never done much coding before but after just an hour session, most had picked up those skills.” The class proved especially engaging for students who sometimes struggle academically.

With only 18 percent of computer science graduates in Australia being women—and with demand for computer software engineers growing, Aubot is creating new pathways for thousands of young women.

 

Learn more about Aubot Academy here.