How it started

During Spring of 2014 I was driving to the office very early one day. With nobody to call at that time of the day I started thinking about the things we were doing with Inspiring Fifty and how much it actually annoyed me that it was necessary to do this. The fact that diversity in tech was (and still is) an issue. Several articles, studies and conversations with young talent confirmed to me that role models are crucial in changing diversity numbers.

Sipping my cappuccino I started thinking though that this was all great but with our focus on adults we were missing out on a very important group. A group that is making decisions about their education already very early in live. Who at the age that they make those decisions feel that technology is boring and difficult and not for them. Who don’t always see the opportunities that technology can bring. Who don’t have a good picture of the consequences of certain choices later in live. Who don’t have role models that show them all this and the ones we were putting in the spotlight with Inspiring Fifty they can relate less to. We were missing out on young girls!

That morning I decided we should change that. And there are no role models in tech for young girls we, create a role model for them. A girl like them that they can relate to, that can make them see technology in a different way. A story close to them that would not allow them to dismiss the story as not being about them. A story about what you can achieve when you think big. That you can achieve anything in live. That girl became 4 girls: Isabel, Kate, Aisha and River. The lead characters of a novel for young girls about technology, starting your own company, friendship, love, fashion, NY: Project Prep.

Nicolette van Dam at the 2016 Project Prep Awards, Amsterdam

Nicolette van Dam at the 2016 Project Prep Awards, Amsterdam

After a very successful release of the book in the Netherlands we are aiming to expand to other countries and reach as many young girls as possible. In the Netherlands we have expanded Project Prep to much more than just the book with events, awards, video series ('friends of technology') and much more. And we are not stopping there, a television series, a movie and expanding globally are all on the wishlist. Like in the book, we like to think big ourselves!

Right now we are very excited to expand to the UK and we hope you will support us making that happen. In this blog we will share more about the behind the scenes, how we got to meet Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, how we met as a team, why the name of the book is Project Prep, interviews with role models and leaders in STEM and much more. But we would love to hear your stories too! Please participate by leaving comments below.

Written by Janneke Niessen